There is a common language that is often used by people to describe back issues!! These often sound scary, and they may not necessarily provide the most accurate information!
“My Back Went Out”
What is occurring is a significant muscle strain, typically caused by lifting a heavy item or bending the wrong way. The muscle can spasm, and this is what causes the pain. It is typically acute pain and it typically remains localized to the lumbar spine or the low back.
Less Frightening Language (LFL): “I have strained my back muscles”
“My Disc Slipped.”
A “slipped disc” refers to a disc that has lost its normal shape or consistency. Discs are your shock absorbers between your vertebra and if the inside of the disc moves into the outer ring, you may experience pain, tingling and numbness that may travel, muscle weakness and/or a burning pain. The disc may have different levels of herniation and the symptoms vary.
LFL: “I have a mild, moderate or severely herniated disc”
“My Back is Unstable.”
Your lower back is a superb feat of engineering—it’s strong, weight-bearing, and sturdy, yet highly flexible! Yes, the back may be hypermobile or hypomobile, muscles may be weak or tight, injuries may be cause for dysfunction, but studies show that the force required to create real instability are massive.
LFL: “My back is weak”, “My back is inflexible”, “My back is prone to injury”.
“I have Degenerative Disc DISEASE.”
Let’s talk about the most frightening word ever…disease! No one wants a disease…ever! I mean, if you look up the definition of disease then one could conclude that a change in discs, that typically occurs with aging, could be a disease…but really? The word disease seems like a very scary way to say “wear and tear”!
LFL: “I have age related changes in my discs that are causing pain”.
Our language can be so important when we are talking with our patients and the information that healthcare providers give needs to be done with care and careful thought! Sometimes a change of language and some careful explanation can change the entire course of your injury outcome!