UK versus US
I’ve had serious back and neck issues in the UK and the US. I was struck by some of the similarities and some of the differencesbetween the two countries. Briefly here are a few of them. Really just for interests sake!
- Physiotherapists did pretty much the same things in both countries.
- Doctors prescribed medications as a first and sometimes only resort.
- Limited options for helping chronic back and neck pain
- In the US the use of steroid injections and tablets was more frequent. Also less concern with prescribing strong painkillers and other drugs.
- Physical Therapists (the term for Physiotherapist in the US) respected the work of Massage Therapists in the US. Do we have a term Massage Therapist in the UK?
- Scans such as MRI, CAT etc. were available to book in the doctor’s office before leaving with an appointment set within days. This assumes you have insurance which is more widely held in the US than the UK.
Did I feel better cared for in either country?
In the US, I felt that my doctor was very willing to hear what I wanted, obviously great in many ways! However, I didn’t feel particularly confident that I had been given clear, authoritative advice. Was the doctor was just giving me options rather than professional recommendations? Ultimately I wasn’t the doctor and I wanted some professional advice. “It’s always nice to have what you want but is it actually in your best interest?” is one way of putting it!
In the UK, it has felt at times to be almost the opposite experience! I do get a sense of a higher level of professionalism (less ties to the drug/insurance companies perhaps?) in the UK. There are undoubtedly pressures though from the constraints of the NHS budgets and time that the doctors have to discuss the issues in an appointment slot. I have also found it does vary as to which doctor you see but I can see that would be universal! Care like physiotherapy or a scan after an incident is usually only available after quite a wait when referred by your doctor on the NHS and so you have to live with an injury for some time (months) before you are seen for diagnosis or treatment.
Which country would I prefer to be treated in?
It would be a mix of the UK and the US of course! The availability of diagnostic tools in the US with the impartiality of the UK doctors. Mix in with that a willingness to properly research and recommend other methods of back care like The Alexander Technique and Sarah Key’s work and the ability to have a personal back care plan agreed by doctor and their patient which I will talk about in a future post. I wouldn’t like to get into the funding debate though!
(Sarah does not have a medical background so it is emphasised that her blog is the result of her experiences and listening to others only. Before doing any of the suggestions contained in her blog, check with your doctor if you have any concerns on how they may affect you)