The more patients I treat with low back pain, the more important I find the need to appropriately educate these individuals on their condition. Even patients with acute low back pain are now presenting with symptoms of chronic pain. In fact, the only thing acute about their symptoms is their date of onset. While their physical symptoms may have only began 2-3 days prior, factors such as obesity, smoking, diabetes, emotional status, unhappiness in their current social situation, and others have all been predisposing patients to low back pain. Treating these individuals is difficult. Clinicians need good knowledge of the pain matrix, neuroscience education, and chronic pain management to appropriately manage these cases.
How to incorporate education into your treatment sessions?
New graduates often find difficulty making education a priority during their treatment sessions. Education may not appear as a 'skilled intervention.' We need to start thinking differently about this premise. Education is perhaps the most important thing we do for people. While we may feel a bit like a psychologist, education is empowering. Additionally, education sessions often require active listening, which allows them to feel calm and relaxed (a state of mind they likely have not experienced in weeks or months).
I know what you are thinking: Easy said than done in a busy clinic while managing multiple patients at a time....
One recommendation I would give you to make education seem easier: start giving education while a patient is on an aerobic machine. Educate them about why they are performing the intervention and why they are experiencing their pain. Use anatomical models, pictures on the internet, or even the video below to assist in your education. The exercise releases endorphins that allow the patient's nervous system to calm down. They can focus more on your education and less on their pain. If you feel the education is not working, step away and let the patient keep moving.
With more patients presenting with chronic-type symptoms, videos like the one below can a great resource.
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