Reframing Low Back Pain
This week’s Wellfie Wednesday: Reframing Low Back Pain.
Happy #WellfieWednesday! Today’s post is brought to you by Aaron (@AaronPerezPT).
I hate getting a cold.
Don’t you? My nose runs, my head and body ache, I sound even more nasally than I normally do. And what I hate the most, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it! Staying in bed just seems to make it worse as there’s nothing distracting me from the annoying scratch in my throat. Over-the-counter medications sort of help manage symptoms, but time seems to be the best medicine.
I also hate getting low back pain.
It’s just as annoying as a cold. It makes daily tasks a bit more tedious. And what I hate the most, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it! Staying in bed just makes it worse as there’s nothing to distract me from the ache. Over-the-counter medications sort of help, but time seems to be the best medicine.
I first heard the phrase “Back pain is the common cold of the spine” from Adiraan Louw. I recall him using this metaphor in one of his presentations. When you think about it, the similarity really is striking. In short, damn near everyone gets it, and there’s not much you can do about it, so don’t let it stop you from living your life.
Easier said than done.
Moreover, our reactions to these unfortunate experiences, particularly those of us in the medical field, are often in stark contrast. For a cold, you are likely to receive education, reassurance and encouragement that “this, too, shall pass.” For back pain, your treatment might be similar, but there’s a good chance it may also involve imaging and/or pain medication. How would you respond this recommendation? Would you have any hesitation to scan your back with an x-ray or MRI? Probably not, it seems reasonable enough. Now, how would you respond if the same recommendation were made for a cold? Imagine, “Sir/Ma’am, we’re going to need an x-ray of your face to ensure nothing serious is going on, and possibly an MRI to view the status of your boogers, x-ray won’t show those.” Seems ridiculous, right? It is! And, the kicker, research has shown some of our treatment recommendations for low back pain to be just as ridiculous. Recent guidelines are recommending far more conservative approaches for back pain.
I realize I run the risk of over-simplifying and discrediting how debilitating low back pain can be. That cannot be dismissed, as low back pain is the leading cause of disability globally. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that reframing low back pain, and pain in general, to improve our response as a society will go a great way towards reducing suffering. Along those lines and coinciding with the title of this post, I highly recommend checking out Pain Reframed Podcast for more on reframing pain. I plan to do a mini-series on low back pain in hopes the blogs may be useful for those of us struggling with it. As much as it sucks, back pain is a part of life. When you catch it, keep calm, and crack on.
ONE THING I LEARNED TODAY:
Low Back Pain can be all about how you frame it!