But, Doc, I’ve Tried LITERALLY Everything!

Just about every doctor out there has heard it before. “But, Doc, I’ve tried literally everything!”Woman holding hands up in confusion

First things first – you have NOT tried “literally” everything. We know this because, if you had, you would have tried reading an entire dictionary to cure whatever is ailing you. Upon doing so, you would have reached the “L” section and found the definition of literally to read “in a literal manner or sense; exactly.” At that point, you would have realized it is impossible to try “literally everything.”

Okay, let’s get off our grammatical soapbox and get to the crux of this matter.

There are certainly times when a little home care is fine. If your Achilles tendon is sore following activity, you will probably benefit from ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and a proper stretching regimen. The key part of treatment options like these is the fact they are time-proven and scientifically backed.

Ice and anti-inflammatory meds control swelling and relieve pain, both of which are essential for the circumstances. Stretching is well-known to not only help an existing problem, but to also prevent it from happening in the first place.

So the issue isn’t patients who come in and say “But, Doc, I’ve tried icing, over-the-counter medication, and stretching.” If you’ve tried those, we get it. It’s when us doctors are told about other tried-and-failed remedies that leave us scratching our heads.

Throughout the history of medical practice, doctors have seen patients who’ve “tried it all.” Well, the internet has really put some gasoline on this proverbial (not literal!) fire. This has led to countless people trying countless solutions, instead of simply coming in for medical treatment from a doctor who is trained in providing it.

So why do so many baffling urban myths and legends of home remedies get perpetuated—on the internet or otherwise?

The likely explanation comes from both temporary relief and illusion. With regard to “temporary relief,” some word-of-mouth methods resolve symptoms without addressing the actual problem. Sure, you feel better, but the situation isn’t improving at all.

The core issue here is that the pain (symptom) is being treated, and not the actual problem. And this brings us to our good friends at places like the Good Feet Store.

This is really a sad situation because people will typically see the commercials—which are run at strategic times and feature celebrity endorsements—and then go to the store to receive their “custom” orthotics. What they don’t say in the commercials, however, is that these are not the same kind of medical devices you would be prescribed from an actual doctor’s office.

Instead, you pay too much money for insoles you might as well get at the drugstore. These insoles might make your feet feel better for a little while, but they do not treat the core problem behind the pain.

That’s all bad enough, but when you go back—and the odds are strong you will—and say “hey, these don’t work,” they don’t actually refund your money. (Your refund comes in the form of store credit—and if you bought a lemon from a car dealership, do you really want to go back there?)

Another example of “I’ve tried everything” solutions not working is trying to treat a case of fungal nails with something like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or coconut oil. People hear about these as being options that will provide a clear, healthy set of toenails, but this is like trying to cure blindness by eating carrots for every meal. It’s not going to happen! You should still eat carrots a couple of times during the week. Just don’t expect perfect eyesight from them!

In the case of these fungal nail home remedies, the reason people think they work comes down to an illusion. Put simply, infected toenails that are wet don’t look as yellowed and discolored as dry nails, and most of the home treatments use liquids of some kind or other. As such, when you take your foot out of the cider vinegar, the nails look better—so it must work, right?

Not quite.

When you come to see your favorite go-to foot doc for fungal toenail treatment, do you think you walk out with a prescription for tea tree oil? Of course not. You will be prescribed a medication. Why? Because it is scientifically proven to work.

Now, at best these other kinds of attempts are ineffective, and whatever problem you’re experiencing won’t get better (even if your wallet ends up much lighter). More concerning, however, is when you are trying something that causes you more harm.

In certain cases, these harmful “remedies” aren’t even those of the “Well, my aunt Sally had a neighbor whose grandmother’s best friend from Sokovia heard about a guy in town who once …” variety. You might not realize it, but some over-the-counter (OTC) products can actually be dangerous.

For example, wart removal kits use alarming concentrations of acid to burn away viral growths. The problem is that the acid can also burn healthy skin around a wart as well. In fact, you are statistically more likely to lose a toe removing a wart with an OTC kit than you are to either a lawn mower or frostbite in winter.

(Keep your eyes open when driving for a future post with more thoughts about pet peeves like dangerous OTC products!) (Also, when driving.)

A lot of these “I’ve tried everything” methods are akin to finding something out of the back of a magazine—and if the editor decides to put it in the back, you know it’s really good information—and thinking you’ve found the perfect answer. But coming in for professional care is like having a magazine that was written exactly for you and derived from legitimate, accredited sources. Oh, and this magazine can also listen to you and change the message based on the new information you provide.

Before you spend an infinite amount of energy trying literally everything, give us a call and schedule an appointment with our Indianapolis office. We will create a treatment plan based on science and methods proven to actually work.

Call us today at (317) 545-0505.
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