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How Can You Tell if You're Getting Better?

Photo courtesy of Dan Eriksson


The answer to that question is almost always an assumed, “when I’m feeling better” of course.  But is that really so?  Could you be improving but still feel no different.  So the question is, how do you evaluate your progress.  I’ll discuss this in terms of health issues but the concept could apply to just about any type of problem from health to work to relationships.  That is, look beyond the immediate pain and evaluate the entire situation.


The reason this is an important discussion is because you need to know if you are truly getting better.  If you’re not, you need to change something.You need to know if you’re on the right path or need to make some changes.  And if you are on the right path you’ll want to stay the course long enough to actually enjoy the results of your efforts.


So, how do you measure your results?  With health issues, the standard way is by how you feel, as I mentioned.  But symptoms can be misleading.  I would suggest that paying attention to the following factors will give you a more complete idea of how you are doing.


  1. Mobility – How well can you move?  As you get better, you should notice a greater range of motion.  This doesn’t always feel better though.  Sometimes, in fact, it feels stiffer or makes more noise but the improved mobility is always a good sign.
  2. Function – What can you do that you couldn’t before?  Can you work longer before it starts to hurt?  Can you drive longer or dig in the garden longer.  How long does it take to get mobile in the morning?  Look for changes in your function.
  3. What has changed?  As you heal, things change.  Your symptoms may move to slightly different areas or their character may change.  This is often an indication of healing.
  4. Remember how you felt at the beginning.  When pain is persistent it often feels like it’s never going to resolve and you may feel like you’re not making any progress at all.  This is a good time to recall what it was like at the beginning.
  5. How often does it hurt?  Quite often the frequency of your pain will improve before the intensity.  It may hurt just as bad when it comes but it only happens 2-3 times a week instead of daily.  That’s progress.


In general, you would be wise to remember that healing takes time and that pain is often the last thing to leave even as your body is healing nicely.  A good doctor will generally give you some idea of how long you can expect this to take.


What’s the most difficult injury or health challenge you’ve had to deal with?
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