Join Leaha Mattinson and Greg Bird as they speak to Deepak Sharma about pain management, self-improvement, customer service and mentorship.
7.02 – 7.16: “I can only help so many people but if I have an army of… talented… therapists who can replicate the same thing… we do in our practice, we certainly can go and help out many more people.”
12.10-12.14: “Pain is not something that affects people as much as their functional limitations.”
13.08 – 13.10: “Not everything is curable, but everything is treatable.”
20.08 – 20.23: “If somebody is dealing with their problems, whether it’s financial issues, health issues or any kind of issues which we are dealing [with] in our life, what’s the first thing we do about it? We tend to ignore it… Our first response is just to ignore it.”
26.43 – 26.47: “The longer you allow the pain to stay in your body, the longer it takes to go away.”
30.08 – 30.23: “You can be the best of the therapists or you can be the best clinician out there… you can be… a Harvard graduate, but if you don’t know how to talk to your patient, how to communicate to your patient, for me, you are the worst person out there.”
47.11 – 47.20: “There are some people that they… actually think at a different level and if you hang out with them… they elevate you to… their level.”
You may not need surgery (2.05)
Deepak is the Director of Primus Physiotherapy, a purpose-driven company with the aim to help people in pain get back to normal without injections, medications or surgery. He acknowledges the merits of surgery but points out that only 10% of the people advised surgery need it. Leaha adds that when the dominant message is that one can only get better with invasive procedures or medications, people tend to believe it.
Lifelong learning (5.17)
Deepak received his bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy and master’s degree in orthopedic physiotherapy from India. During his career in India, he was able to work with one of Asia’s largest private sector hospitals, where he expanded his knowledge learning from pioneers in the industry. 15 years into his field, he has travelled extensively to add to his repertoire. He also conducts coaching and training sessions to share what he has learned.
The proof is in the happy customers (7.17)
Deepak has had over 3000 satisfied patients over the last 2.5 years. Greg has received treatment from Deepak and stands testament to the quality of his practice, his character, and his credibility. He came in with his arm in pain, and Deepak explained to him in layman’s terms his condition, solutions and treatment, and within a few days, Greg was able to play baseball again, without any pain!
Not the pain, but the source (8.20)
Deepak laments that medicine and health sciences fail their customers with their focus on treating the symptoms. Medication can mask symptoms temporarily, but it’s important to uncover the cause of the symptoms. In his practice, he educates his patients on the root cause of the problem so they feel more committed to their treatment plan. The results may not be instant, but they will be permanent, he promises.
The wrong way to heal pain (10.28)
Leaha remarks that temporary relief may aggravate a situation, in the pursuit of quicker, stronger solutions. Along with over-the-counter medications, alcohol is also a common way of coping with pain. Those who live with long-term, complex pain could have little incentive to find a permanent solution and end up making choices that do more harm than good and not help them improve their functionality.
Pain vs. functionality (12.00)
Deepak’s aim is not to relieve your pain, but to improve your functionality in daily life. He explains that for someone who has lived with chronic pain, dealing with pain at a lower intensity would be bearable as long as they were able to complete tasks independently. Sometimes, a chronic condition may not be able to be entirely cured, but it can surely be treated to ensure that your life is more enjoyable.
Stop slouching! (13.32)
Deepak leads us through a stretching exercise where he asks us to sit up straight, stretch the arms forward and bring them up. Then he challenges us to do the same while slouching. He brings our attention to the fact that sitting in a slouched posture can affect flexibility. When we sit straight, our bones don’t rub against each other but lock when we slouch. The damage from years of slouching causes joints to wear out and degeneration to set in, even at a young age.
Breathe in, breathe out (15.30)
Leaha mentions how breathing, too, is compromised when we slouch. Not only does improper breathing affect physical health, but it can also create complex mental health problems, especially when the COVID situation has already triggered our stress levels. She recommends pausing, sitting up, rolling your shoulders back and taking a deep breath. This helps activate your life force, called by different names in different cultures (chi, prana, etc.).
Don’t work on the toilet seat! (16.35)
Deepak observes that since the pandemic hit, people have been working from home, causing an increase in shoulder and neck pain, surpassing even lower back pain, the most common condition affecting everyone at least once in their lifetime. Since people do not have ergonomic seating in their homes, they are making do with uncomfortable chairs. He recounts the story of one of his clients working only on the toilet seat!
Use your benefits to your benefit (18.33)
Greg notes that even though many employees have the luxury of group benefits plans with physiotherapy being one of the main coverages, many people are reluctant to use it. He recommends business owners contact a financial advisor to set up a health spending account or Private Health Services Plan (PHSP) as a tax-effective way of providing benefits to their employees.
Deepak’s mentor made him aware of the human tendency to ignore any problem when it first develops. There are three things one can do when faced with a problem – ignore the problem and defer working on it, alter the problem by limiting your actions to avoid encountering it, or handle it. Unfortunately, the problem may have become not completely reversible by then. Deepak urges us to not let a health problem snowball till it’s too late.
The divine right to wellbeing (22.30)
Because of the neurological disease that runs in Leaha’s family, she cannot qualify for benefits but says it is our human right to be well and enjoy good health, irrespective of benefits. If you are sick, she recommends having a vision of the quality of life you desire and take steps to turn that into reality. “You value your health so much because you know the cost of not being well”, she notes.
The smokescreen of pills (24.05)
Deepak believes that the pharmaceutical industry has such an overwhelming presence in advertisements, that people have been wired to think of medications first as a solution to any health problem. The irony is that there is over a 92% chance that if you called your physiotherapist instead, you would be able to heal your pain. If you visited a physiotherapist at the onset of pain, the recovery would be much faster than if you waited a long time.
Generational wellness (27.10)
Leaha shares a story about eastern medicine where in China, in the olden days, families would pay the family doctor a certain amount at the beginning of the year, and avail of prescriptions or treatments. If any family member became ill, the doctor had to return some amount to them. This held the doctors accountable for good practice, but also the patients for following the recommended course of action.
The psychosocial aspect of treatment (28.42)
Deepak states that technical knowledge or skills only constitute 30-40% of the treatment, with the rest being customer service. He shares the story of a customer who was not given an explanation by one of the therapists for why the treatment was done in a certain way and gave them a 1-star rating. Deepak called him back and provided the same treatment, but this time with an explanation, making him want to change his rating to 5 stars!
Working in tandem on treatment (34.52)
Deepak wanted to provide his patients with a unique experience when visiting his clinic, so he hosts a graduation ceremony for patients who have completed their plan of care, asks them to write a testimonial and takes a picture with them. The walls of his clinic are lined with many such success stories. They also use detailed information sheets for evaluation and assessment, identified problems, treatment goals and the plan of care, to hold everyone accountable.
The financial burden of surgery (42.47)
Deepak lists the many costs of going through surgery – the hospital bill, narcotics for pain relief, the endless medications being prescribed, going off work, and the social security being funded by tax dollars. Compare that with the 80-100 dollars it costs to go for a physiotherapy session and the much higher probability of recovery, and the choice is clear. If you need surgery, go for it, he says, but carefully evaluate if you need it first.
The importance of mentors (46.27)
Deepak met his mentor, Chad Madden, in 2017 and his professional life took a turn for the better, both as a clinician and a businessman. He espouses the benefits of having someone to guide you towards progress. Leaha recommends surrounding yourself with people who embody what you want your life to be and finding a mentor who has already achieved what you are aiming for.
Did you go to Harvard? (52.00)
Deepak reports that the human brain is programmed to chase credentials, always looking at the number of degrees someone has and the institutions they earned them from. An Ivy-League-educated clinician may have refined skills but they may not have the breadth of experience you need for help with your condition. “It’s not the credentials, it’s the wisdom and experience”, chimes in Leaha.
The mentorship sessions (53.55)
Deepak conducts mentorship sessions for his staff every week where they discuss some aspect of a topic of importance to them, be it field-related or peripheral, such as accounting, law, etc. He invites different experts to share tips and tricks with them and asks his staff to recommend the people they would like to have sessions with. Greg was the guest at one such session, where he gave much-needed financial advice.
Stay in touch! (57.54)
If you have any questions, you can reach Deepak at 780-540-1234, Leaha at Leaha@leahamattinson.com and Greg at GBird@ppi.ca. Greg shares the lyrics of the songs Everybody Hurts by R.E.M., reminding you to take action for your pain!
Master Your Life – Recovery Road Episode 12:
Prioritizing Pain with Deepak Sharma