Do You Trust the Advice of Doctors?

We ran this poll on Instagram for the fun of it. How would you answer?

I think the days of immediately trusting a doctor are over. There are just way too many who disagree with one another in such profound ways that your life depends on your own discernment… and as many second opinions as you can get.

One expert may slowly kill you with his or her advice, and another may get to the bottom of your biggest health problems. My dad went through this recently with a cardiologist who did nothing and didn’t give a crap. Then he switched to another who cured his AFIB right away. Just one example of dozens in my family.

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As a child and younger person, I viewed Doctors as intelligent people on a pedestal above us all. Now, in middle age, I’ve come to realize that they are just people with their own distractions, problems, and agendas. I’ve met a few even that I would classify as unintelligent; which is scary. Point being, you should always advocate for your own health. If you have a condition, research it on your own before trusting your Doc blindly. It’s very easy to do these days with ‘Dr Google’ at your finger tips.

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Depends on the subject. And I realize it says “generally”, but that’s the issue: Doctors specialize in stuff. Would I trust the advice of a cardiologist when it comes to how to take care of my ACL post surgery? No. Would I take their advice to heart (pun!) when it comes to taking care of my heart compared to what my neighbor googled? Yeah: it’ll have more weight.

And I feel like that’s the issue: people hear/see “Doctor” and assume godhood in terms of all things medical, but these people are humans as well, they have their limits, and they have their areas of focus. Much like how Derek Poundstone is an outstanding strongman coach but probably not the best when it comes to training elite level swimmers: not everything in fitness is related, nor is everything in health.

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It’s definitely context specific.

Doctors deal in illness or injury, not health. If you want to get healthier, the doctor is not the place to go. If you want to stop getting sicker, doctors can help you.

Plus, like everyone, they only know what they know, and they only have experience in what they’ve done. Doctors don’t know everything (especially specialists), and they don’t have experience with everything.

So… when they’re working within their knowledge, abilities and experience, yes, I trust doctors.

And when they’re not, I’ll weight their opinions appropriately. Few doctors know more about physical therapy than DPTs. Few doctors know more about nutrition than RDs.

But I do trust their opinions about any random medical matter more than the average non-medical professional.

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I trust but verify. A friend of mine is a very talented and extremely diligent and well practiced MD. If I run something by him and it doesn’t pass the sniff test, he lets me know why. Conversely, if something sound wierd to me that is actually pretty standard he also lets me know why.

I think the why is what it often missing from doctors advice. Once that is either satisfied or examined further, the action part makes more sense.

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I trust doctors to deal with acute (e.g., broken bone, appendicitis) and disease (afib, CKD) stuff, even when it comes to things like post surgery rehab (better safe than sorry)

I take their advice with a grain of salt when it comes to lifestyle

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I think it bears reminding what the goal of the doctor’s advice is. If I had an acute injury or illness that needed specialized treatment or surgery, I would absolutely trust the specialist and/or surgeon to propose a plan to address it. An example for me was a blocked nerve resulting from a ganglion cyst on the side of my knee.

But, for vague “quality of life” advice, not really. Their goal, or the physical therapist they may refer you to, is to reduce pain to the point you no longer need office visits or prescribed pain medication. They don’t care too much about your performance/ability goals, such as returning to strength training, getting back into a physical hobby or sport, or other activities beyond just living in society relatively pain-free.

The old adage of:
Me: It hurts when I do this [while raising an arm above your head]
Doctor: Well, don’t do that.

…is a bit too true. I visited a doctor a couple years back when I had lingering golfer’s/tennis elbow from overuse on training, and they could not care less. My ability to do pull ups and other pulling exercises is of no interest to them, as along as I could function in society. The doctor was annoyed by my visit, despite it being several months of inability to do pull ups without pain. I learned that long term, quality of life goals are my own, and that it’s up to me to treat/prevent them.

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I like this, yes

haven’t been to a Dr. in many years (am 34 y/o) but from talking to family members it seems that they’re (family Drs at least) only concerned with prescribing pharmaceuticals and not inquiring about diet, physical activity, exposure to toxins, etc.

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When I had my kidney surgery, I got lucky bc the surgeon is also the guy who used to treat Chinese olympic athletes. He was very sympathetic to my desire to stay as active as possible + get back to lifting far sooner than what conventional guidelines in the states say (6 weeks, lift no more than 20lbs).

He basically said “wait 2 weeks until the drain is out, then you can do anything that doesn’t involve bending forward or excessive bracing. If it doesn’t bleed, you’re probably okay”
I was back in the gym doing pretty heavy bulgarian split squats and pretty much every upper body movement by three weeks post surgery. Got the okay to do heavy hip thrusts the 6 week mark

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That’s awesome. After my surgery to remove the cyst and restore the use of my nerve, they really tempered expectations that I may only regain ~80% mobility and function to my left foot. For example, I was told that I may not be playing soccer again and running may be challenging (because of the danger of tripping, sense the ability to flex my foot would be comprimised). Over the next year, I worked hard to defy that I was able to fully regain function. They were surprised to see me back out there running races and playing soccer.

I think hitting it hard in the gym (not limiting myself on squat/deadlifts because they had no direct relation to flexion) helped my body heal. It told it “You’re still needed, so get yourself right”. I slowly added in runs, then light soccer, then could go all out. Being late 40’s at time, it was inspiring to see my ability to heal and, about 2 years after the injury, get into competitive Crossfit.

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Thats a very important piece of these puzzles.

Like, when my brother broke his neck the doctors said he would never walk again. He worked his butt off, but they were right. Disappointing for sure, but right. On the other hand, some people Do walk again. But nobody is going to lose confidence in their doctor when the outcome is better than their long term prognosis.

On the other hand, a friend of mine had a brain surgery to remove a section that was damaged and was causing seizures. All went as planned, his recovery was spectacular, seizures gone, and his brain works really good now. The expectation was optimistic, but nebulous. Like, this will stop the seizures, but there could be some serious irreversible and unforeseeable affects of the surgery. Fortunately there weren’t any. He’s a pretty happy, healthy, seizure free and fully cognizant guy now.

I think managing expectations, whether by prognosis or a patients outlook, play a major role in the satisfaction one may feel about treatment or course of action, and medical professionals overall.

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Good call out. If I remember right, this is actually a thing most (all?) doctors are trained on.

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I also think doctors in the US are more cautious because of legal risk

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:man_shrugging:t2:. Maybe. I dunno.

I trust my cardiologist as he says all is good

I trust my primary doctor, sees me once a year, gives me prescriptions as needed

i trust my chiropractor as she keeps my back and neck in line

A word from one MD’s perspective.

Do you trust the advice from your hairdresser, dentist, lawyer, plumber or carpenter? You chose them for a reason, didn’t you?

For some reason doctor’s always stand out in these “popularity” competitions - and everyone has an opinion. Heck, I even have a friend into print industry who told my other friends in detail (with me present), what I do at my job on a daily basis. I can also recall a study that presented a great majority of patients (was it 75%?) who stated themselves more able (than the doctor) to decide when antibiotics was needed or not.

To want something is not always the same as needing it.

Let us ask ourselves how we ended up here?

I guess it all comes down to a more critical group of patients nowadays (which is primarily good, able to take more responsibility, engage in discussions, ask questions etc. The downside being battles with dogmatists who will never be satisfied) + doctor’s having less time during a visit (what can you possibly achieve during 15 mins?) + the productivity demands on today’s doctor’s from the employer are significantly higher (more about number of patients than patient satisfaction, I can remember having up to about 40 patients on a hectic workday).

All of the above equals a deprofessionalization and conflicts of conscience of/for the doctor - And more importantly - The patient being at medical risk and dissatisfaction.

That said, you should choose your doctor wisely. Ability to listen and engage in negotiation makes a perfect team for good decisions.

And no, I have yet to receive any fancy gifts from big pharma.

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As has been mentioned by several people, for acute injuries or an illness… sure. For everything else? Hmm…

It’s not that I don’t respect doctors or anything, their modern role is just misunderstood. Far too many people rely on their general practicioners rather than becoming advocates for their own health. We live in a “there’s a pill for that” culture. It’s not their faults they can’t help you, they only get a limited amount of time with you and simply don’t have the resources available to them to deal with anything even slightly nuanced to you as an individual.

For a small example, how many people do we all know that have gone to the doctor for stomach pain or heartburn and ended up on PPIs for the rest of their lives? General practitioners in their studies do very little work on nutrition but will peddle out a tablet that cripples a natural function of the digestive system that has been with us as far back as evolution can remember. Some people need these tablets, I do not doubt that for a second, I have experimented with them a lot myself… but most people just like the quick fix and won’t spend some time trying to figure out the causes themselves. Doctors cannot be expected to be with you every hour of the day, I repeat, we must become our own advocates.

Being referred to somebody higher up, somebody more specific… that may be a different story. I think when some things are a bit more complex you do need the help and advice of somebody that has directly dealt with similar cases. Even though that hasn’t been my experience, I am real enough to think that this is still the best route for problems that have a little more depth to them. This does not mean you stop being your own advocate alongside this though.

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Thats an interesting one.

I’m 100% on board with self advocacy, but before our modern era in medicine, you know how many people died from relatively simple and currently completely preventable things like esophageal cancer or various other digestive tract problem? Tooth infections?

All of them! :rofl: For real, if it wasn’t one thing, it was a dozen others, that we can now go to wal-mart (or equivalent) and get a treatment for.

Now we live so long that we run into new problems, because the old ones have been solved.

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I trust doctors who strike me as curious, informed, and intelligent.

I trust teachers with the same qualities.

Contractors - same.

I mean, these are people. Individuals with individual qualities and skill sets. I adore my current PCP, but I had the advantage of working at a primary care center and choosing among the providers, with whom I shared patients. Prior the her it was luck of the draw.

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