After treating thousands of acute low back pain patients over the past 20 years. I have come to realize that most patients can be divided into 2 groups.
The CAN/SHOULD group and the CAN’T/SHOULDN’T group.
What do I mean by this??
Well first, if you’ve ever experienced an episode of acute low back pain. Then you know it can be scary, traumatic, and very disruptive to your normal daily routines. From putting your shoes on to getting up and down off the toilet and even getting out of bed can be challenging. You name it!
So, when a patient walks in bent forward or sideways (you know the feeling), I am always intrigued to see which type of patient I am going to get.
The CAN/SHOULD patient will always have some activity such as a golf tournament, surf trip, or tennis match coming up. Or they want to continue lifting weights with their personal trainer. The very first question is always when CAN I return to surfing, tennis, weights, golf etc. What SHOULD I do to speed up the process? Forget the fact that they can barely wipe their own a**! They just want to get back to living as fast as possible! They are more focused on the solution than the pain.
The CAN’T/SHOULDN’T patient on the other hand usually walks in with a scared look on their face. Sidenote. I am not knocking this group. I have personally been both types of patients. This patient always asks if they need an x-ray or MRI. They want to know if they need injections or surgery. But more importantly they want to make sure they don’t injure themselves further. They are afraid to move for fear of further damage. This patient wants to know what they CAN’T or SHOULDN’T do! They are more focused on the pain or problem rather than the solution.
So why does this distinction matter? It matters because generally speaking the CAN/SHOULD patient usually heals faster than the CAN’T/SHOULDN’T patient. They return to normalcy at a quicker pace.
On the flipside, the CAN’T/SHOULDN’T group is more likely to stop moving all together, recover slower, and remain fearful to move for months to even years even after the pain has subsided.
Your mindset matters. Pain can be scary. But the majority of acute mechanical low back pain episodes can be managed conservatively.
The next time you experience acute low back pain pause and take a deep breath.
FOCUS ON THE SOLUTION!
If you are unsure about the severity of your specific low back pain, WE CAN HELP!