Sharon Ufberg, DC examines the need for practitioners to change patterns of diagnosing and treating men’s health issues.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

I try to conscientiously not generalize about gender characteristics but after almost 30 years in private practice some specifically male individual health care practices have emerged and cannot be relegated to the coincidental. These differences are worth thinking about as we try and be available and create methods to meet all our patient’s needs- in this case, the male population in our practices.

Specifically, I am talking about men and what I term, “the quick fix.”

Often a new patient of the male gender arrives in my office harried and tired. He relays a history of headache and neck pain, for example, that he has been suffering with for months if not years. This patient has no idea why he has these recurrent headaches and has not attempted to change almost anything in his daily work or lifestyle activities to try and solve the mystery.

Often we spend much of the time during the first visit trying to discover what may be the triggers for his persistent symptomology. It is always a surprise to me that rarely has the gentleman tried any remedy other than over the counter pain medication.

What is clear is that this patient is coming in to have the practitioner make the problem go away and fast. There is always the immediate need to feel better now. If we are able to dispense some initial relief then we have an opportunity to begin to help these guys learn to help themselves. Empowering the individual man to take back the control for his own health and well being is one of the best ways to get the patient to relinquish the desire of the “quick fix” for a longer term solution.

Whether it is offering stress relieving techniques, incidental exercise ideas, or nutritional recommendations, the only way I have found to get the attention of the majority of my male patients is to provide a variety of solutions that may trigger a self directed change. Of course there are times when a specific and direct cause of the problem must be addressed but often symptoms arise from an accumulation of poor habits or repetitive activities.

Why is the “quick fix” method a predominantly male issue? This question should be answered by the psychologists and therapists that are part of our integrative healthcare teams. I suspect part of it emanates from the long history of gender cues where men are supposed to be the strong invincible sex. Therefore, any clue from their bodies about a problem is seen as a weakness rather than a warning.

I believe our job is to offer as many opportunities for all our patients, male or female, to access their own inherent ability to heal themselves. We can all be more conscious of the signs that our bodies emit that remind us to slow down, sleep more, stretch, breath deeply and smile more. Passing on this philosophy of wellness to our patients does have a remarkably salutary effect on one’s life.

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