Back Pain Language 101

Source: Trust Me Im A Physiotherapist
How not to communicate with your low back pain patients:

“Your back is damaged”
“You have the back of a 70-year-old”
“It’s wear and tear”
“You have degeneration/ arthritis/ disc bulge/ disc disease/
a slipped disc”

How not to cope with low back pain:
“You have tob e careful/take it easy from now on”
“Your back is weak”
“You should avoid bending/lifting”

How we SHOULD communicate with our patient with low back pain:
“Back pain does not mean your back is damaged – it means it is sensitised”
“Your back can be sensitised by awkward movements and postures, muscle tension, inactivity, lack of sleep, stress, worry and low mood”
“Most back pain is linked to minor sprains that can be very painful”
“Sleeping well, exercise, a healthy diet and cutting down on your smoking will help your back as well”
“The brain acts as an amplifier – the more you worry and think about your pain, the worse it gets”

How to promote resilience:
“Your back is one of the strongest structures of the body”
“It’s very rare to do permanent damage to your back”

Address concerns about imaging results and pain:
“Your scans changes are normal, like grey hair”
“The pain does not mean you are doing damage – your back is sensitive”
“movements will be painful at first – like an sprained ankle – but they will get better as you get active”

Source: Peter O’Sullivan (2014) Acute low back pain Beyond drug therapies. Pain management Today 2014; 1(1):8-13

Some very important video’s every physiotherapists should see about low back pain:

-Peter O’Sullivan: Back pain – separating fact from fiction:

-Peter O’Sullivan with Jack:

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