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When You Hear Hoof Beats Behind You, Don’t Expect to See a Zebra

When You Hear Hoof Beats Behind You, Don’t Expect to See a Zebra

By M. P. Mansfield AAS, LMT, CNMT

“When you hear hoof beats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra”, was coined in the late 1940s by Dr. Theodore Woodward, a former professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Woodward was teaching his students the importance of not jumping to conclusions, focusing their attention on obtaining a complete patient history before presenting a diagnosis and treatment plan.

The world today is a much different place than it was for Dr. Woodward in the ‘40’s. Information that was once only found in the medical community is now easily found on the internet. Rather than seeking medical treatment for a condition, many will self-diagnose and self medicate. Many people may be successful in understanding and treating their body well. However, there are common mistakes an individual can make in self-diagnosing and treatment.

In my experience of treating clients, deficiency of proper hydration, calcium, and oxygen are common denominators to the root cause of pain and dysfunction. Water, calcium, and oxygen are the 3 most important elements to the functioning of the body. Water, because over half of the mass of the body is water, and dehydration triggers muscle spasm. Calcium is needed not only for strong teeth and bones; it is also a catalyst to the functioning of the nervous system. Too low dietary calcium can lead to chronic muscle spasm and joint dysfunction. And oxygen, inarguably the most important element to life, is essential to properly working musculature.

A common example of self-diagnosing and self-treatment is sinus congestion. Many who suffer from chronic sinus congestion may treat the condition with antihistamines and decongestants. However, allergies may not be the cause for sinus congestion.

The sinuses are hollow areas within the facial bones connecting to the nasal cavity via a small structure called the sinus ostium (pl.ostia). A tight scalp and facial musculature can place pressure on the ostia, causing inflammation and blockage. When the ostia become blocked, there is an accumulation of fluid in the sinuses, causing congestion.

If you suffer from a chronic condition or pain, take the time to get checked out by a health professional. Share your self diagnosis and the reasons for your deduction. You may be correct. However, in the event that you have heard hoof beats, have seen a Zebra, and your self-treatment is not working, it is probably time to make an appointment with your doctor or other health professionals that can correctly diagnose and treat your condition. Stop, Breathe, and BE well!

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