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This Is Why "Fixing" Your Injury Is Not Really the Same Thing as "Healing" It

There is an unfortunate but widespread trend among many patients, and even some healthcare providers, that speak about having their injuries "fixed" instead of having themselves "healed.” At first glance it doesn't seem to be that important of a distinction; fix sounds more objective, while heal is a bit more abstract, or even mystic in its connotation. One term usually applies to the course of action taken to repair something broken - like a kitchen chair or car transmission - the other refers to a human being.

So what, exactly, is the difference?

In my clinical experience over the past 17 years, I have found patients mostly use the term fix in an innocent sense - a benign mistake simply spoken out of desperation, convenience, or just plain ignorance. But on rare occasion, however, it can be a more noxious indicator of a highly difficult condition to treat… the case of “the patient who doesn’t want to help himself.”

This is certainly not a diagnosis found in medical textbooks, but I guarantee that many seasoned physicians can spot this type of problem as soon as they see it. Perhaps it's important to understand this from the historical perspective of a medical culture that has been around for a while.

Let's take it back a couple thousand years.

In classical Chinese Medicine, doctors were esteemed not only by the potency of their tonics or the success of their treatments but by their ability to determine which patients were decidedly untreatable. One such legendary doctor, named Bian Que, lived almost 2,000 years ago and has been long revered for his ability to cure many difficult illnesses, and bring patients back from the brink of death.

However, Dr. Que is also famously remembered for rejecting a case he would not attempt to cure. His patient at the time was an arrogant and glutinous king. The king led an indulgent, selfish lifestyle, but also harbored a “hidden” illness that only the doctor could see. Dr. Que warned the king to change his ways and receive his simple treatment. But the king disregarded the advice until finally, all at once, he became gravely and irreversibly ill. It was then, at this “untreatable” state, and in fear of the king’s delirious wrath, that Bian Que flees the royal palace and runs safely off into the woods.

How does Dr. Que's story apply to us today?

Although many healthcare providers today would love to just “run off into the woods” at the first sign of a troublesome patient, professional ethic and local State Law prevent such an amusing convenience. However, this true story from Chinese history illustrates the importance of the patient’s “active” participation in the process of becoming better, that is… the process of being healed.

Personally, I have found that there is always hope in healing even the most difficult and “untreatable” conditions if the patient is of a positive and encouraged attitude. Likewise, how impossible is it then to work with the opposite type of person - the one who condemns him or herself at the beginning of treatment, preferring unnecessary surgical approaches or other “passive” panaceas. Perhaps the inanimate, more lifeless term “fix” is more appropriately applied here.

You are not a robot in need of a tune up, or a fix...

In contrast to our modern medical machine, the ancient healthcare system was without solicitation, salesmanship, or bargaining on behalf of the physician. Our ancestral patients would actively seek out help by traveling far and wide, overcoming much hardship, to find and commit to a distinguished healer. Rightly so, it is just as important for us today that we approach our own health and wellness with the same dedicated enthusiasm.

So take charge of your body. Reach out in the form of hope for active “healing," and grasp upward with the desire to help yourself.

Have you ever overcame a difficult injury or rehab by keeping a positive attitude and never losing focus of your longterm goals?

We'd love to hear your story too.

If you have a new health and wellness goal that you are looking to achieve, reach out to us and schedule a complimentary consultation today.


Nailah Garard
Nailah Garard
Jul 26, 2021

I love this counter of a western biomedical idea that the body is a machine. We are active participants in our own healing journey and our doctors are our guides!

Replying to

Thanks for your support Nailah. I always say, "The first step toward healing begins with the desire to help yourself!"


A very insightful commentary stressing the patient’s role in his/her own healing. Often people seek an intervention like a pill or an operation. However, i would imagine that the appropriate exercise recommended by knowledgeable physical therapist and applied over time with patience and consistency often makes possible the “cure” the patient desires.

Replying to

Thanks for your insight Kathy. As long as people keep their minds open to the variety of options open, then there's always hope.


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