Most of us know a guy out there who would rather do almost anything else but visit a doctor; even if his arm was falling off. All it would take to get him ranting about how seeing the doctor regularly is over-rated is to suggest that he gets his regular headaches checked. A survey done in the USA literally confirmed this; only half of the over thousand participants said they get regular check-ups with 72% preferring to do household chores than going to see a doctor. If only wives new this hidden mystery, many household squabbles about the dishes not being done would be a thing of the past.
While many women might also prefer getting household chores done than having to go see a GP, research shows that it doesn’t stop them from booking to see one when they need to. No wonder women tend to enjoy longer, healthier lives. According to Bradley Gill a urologist, this gender difference might be due in part to that fact that women are introduced to the healthcare system earlier in life with gynaecologists and get into the habit of regular visits. Guys on the other hand, might get to their 20s or 30s before seeing a GP for a routine check-up.
Another reason would be subscribing to the tough guy societal view of men. Though we are seeing a change from the expectation for men to remain nothing but stoic in the face or any problem or challenge to expressing themselves more, there is still some work to do in the area of getting them into the health professional’s office. Even when they did, some men were not completely honest with their physicians. One in five men from the survey mentioned above admitted they haven’t been completely honest with the physicians. As a physio, I can attest that there is some truth to this; it sometimes feels like I’m having to peel my male clients layer by layer for information, whereas with my female clients, it tends to feel like I need to put a stopper on the information gushing out. As easy as it is to poke fun at this phenomenon with jokes of insecurity, fragility or “boys being boys”, this is a serious issue as it could impact on the long-term health of men.
WHAT TO DO?
My advice is to look at the at big picture. The side effects of deferred health intervention can be numerous if the issue is systemic in nature. I once saw a patient with pain in the elbows that had progressed to wrist, shoulder and neck pain because he had been postponing seeing a physio for close to three years. As a common theme, I notice more men tend to wait till they feel pain (excruciating pain for that matter), before they report for treatment. As a physiotherapist my advice would be to visit a GP or physio the moment you notice a consistent issue (weakness, pain, tingling, numbness etc) that was previously absent or difficulty in performing a function or participating in an activity that was previously easy to do so. There is a high correlation between early reporting of symptoms and early discharge not only in the fitness and movement industry but also in the medical sector; prostate cancer survival rate has been shown to be higher amongst early reporters.
Next time you feel that niggle or burn that you have had for the last few days, do not brush it off. Call your GP or come see us at The Movement Mill; we are all about movement and good movement for that matter.
Written for Men’s Health Week 2020 by Kojo Arthur (Physiotherapist)