So , I have been blogging regularly on FB–btw, you should become a fan :O)– and it just dawned on me that I should have been writing on my site. Such is life, the obvious sometimes escapes us.
Anyhow, this month Spine Journal has several interesting abstracts. Of note, there is prize winning article on the linear association of Schmorls nodes and the severity of DDD (1). Unfortunately, “the correlation between radiologic changes and chronic low back pain is weak, [even though] these investigations are often used by clinicians as an explanation of the underlying cause for pain (2).” This is nothing new as research has been showing that what your spine looks like is not always relevant to your case. I have posted on this before and you can find articles on my discussions board in FB. However, this author suggests that as doctors we often encourage unhelpful beliefs. The words we use to describe images–X-ray, MRI–tend to develop negative ideas in the patients mind. This can lead to a disability mindset and is terribly dis-empowering for people. However, the author suggests that the “explanation of radiological findings to patients presents an opportunity to challenge unhelpful beliefs” so clinicians can encourage patients to pursue active treatment strategies (2).
This option empowers people to become participants in their care. It de-victimizes them and de-catastrophizes the scenario so people can regain control of their life. Long story short, do not be discouraged by the words used to describe pictures of your back. They are not necessarily a reflection of the the person or the pain they feel. Most back pain episodes can be successfully treated conservatively. Patients can learn strategies to help with future less painful occurrences. Learn more. Check out Myths about Back Pain on Spine-Health.com.
1. Mok F, et al. ISSLS Prize Winner: Prevalence, Determinants, and Association of Schmorl Nodes of the Lumbar Spine With Disc Degeneration: A Population-Based Study of 2449 Individuals. Spine: 1 October 2010 – Volume 35 – Issue 21 – pp 1944-1952
2. Sloan TJ, Walsh DA. Explanatory and Diagnostic Labels and Perceived Prognosis in Chronic Low Back Pain. Spine:1 October 2010 – Volume 35 – Issue 21 – pp E1120-E1125