Doctor-Patient Relationship:

Active Listening is Key to Successful Treatment and Positive Outcomes

Tyla Pratt-Wildman threw a snowball for the first time in over 30 years. Lee Munger stacked four cords of wood in his backyard. Austin “Chad” Stern tossed a football with his children. For some, these “feats” may not seem all that remarkable. For people who have been in pain for years, and in some cases, decades, these moments were a long, frustrating time coming, and wouldn’t, according to Tyla, Lee and Chad, have happened were it not for the surgeons at Essex Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Salem, NH. Specifically, they credit the surgeons’ ability to listen to their concerns, and only then, offer treatment options. Couple that with surgical expertise and compassion, and according to the three, the elements for successful surgeries were all in place. The result – freedom from pain.

Done with the Pain

“Every time I moved my shoulder, I was in pain,” said 72-year-old Lee. “It was bone on bone and Cortisone injections did nothing.” He turned to Essex Orthopaedics. With complete end stage arthritis in Lee’s shoulder and little motion, Dr. Tahsin M. Ergin of Essex Orthopaedics recommended left total shoulder replacement. A successful surgery took place shortly thereafter, and Lee came home the same day. According to Dr Ergin, “Lee was sore from the surgery, but no longer had any arthritis pain, which is huge.”

Patient Austin “Chad” Stern and Dr. Eric B. Arvidson agree communication is key when it comes to ensuring full recovery from surgery with the ability to live life to the fullest.

Cortisone injections also did not relieve the pain for 47-year-old Tyla. Significant issues with her right arm made many tasks difficult. A nurse, she asked around and was referred to Dr. Joshua M. Philbrick at Essex Orthopaedics. He performed numerous releases and decompressions to treat her pain, tingling and numbness. While still not back to cross fit, Tyla is exercising again and pursuing activities that before seemed impossible, and doing it pain free. Hip pain kept Chad, 46, from even such simple activities as putting on his shoes and socks, and significantly impacted his ability to play hockey, a passion since childhood. Referred by a friend, he had a left anterior hip replacement performed by Dr. Eric B. Arvidson at Essex Orthopaedics. “My flexibility and range of motion are greatly improved and I’m moving with less pain,” said Chad.


Communication is Key

“Our care is extremely individualized. It has to be, and that’s why we take the time to get to know our patients and their goals in terms of outcomes,” said Dr. Philbrick. “First, we listen. Then we take time to explain the condition and educate patients as to the non-surgical and surgical options available to ensure they are able to do what they want to do and live life to the fullest.”

For patient Tyla Pratt-Wildman, it was not about the x-rays, but about Dr. Joshua M. Philbrick’s listening skills and caring that made the difference in her care.

That listening, according to Tyla, changed her life. While Dr. Philbrick was treating her other conditions, she mentioned that for decades she suffered from extreme pain in one of her fingers. She went to several hand specialists, but came away with no diagnosis and a belief that she would have to live with the pain the rest of her life. Dr. Philbrick, upon hearing her concern, had an x-ray taken and immediately diagnosed her with a rare glomus tumor. “He diagnosed in 15 minutes what others couldn’t diagnose in 30 years,” said Tyla.

Sometimes it’s the patients that need to do the listening, according to Lee, who said following his surgery he was anxious to be back at full speed, and even though Dr. Ergin told him that he was doing well in terms of his recovery, he was impatient. When he returned for his follow-up appointment, Lee was told he was 75% recovered, so needed to still take it easy. Sensing Lee’s frustration, Dr. Ergin said with a smile, “Lee, God put that shoulder on you and he did a great job. I’m not as good as God.” Lee listened to the recommendation to not push himself, and as a result, is doing great.


Getting Back to Living

Dr. Tahsin M. Ergin was pleased with patient Lee Munger’s recovery from total shoulder replacement and happy that Lee could return to his activities without pain.

Chad never thought he would say it, but he is thrilled to be able to get back to his “honey do list.” He’s looking forward to hockey and skiing. “I anticipated the worst in terms of recovery, but Dr. Arvidson got me moving quickly.”

“I’m an active guy, and Dr. Ergin has enabled me to get outside again to chop wood and attend breakfasts with fellow veterans,” said Lee. “He’s an exemplary surgeon – the best you can get.”

Tyla credits being pain-free and back to the active lifestyle she enjoys to Dr. Philbrick’s active listening, expertise, and true compassion. “I have never met someone so competent, caring and humble. He changed my whole life. He is truly my hero.”  

Byline Tammy L. Boucher

It’s All About You

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