Beware of back pain information online!

When we wake up with back pain, one of the first things we do is (unfortunately) to consult Dr. Google to learn more about our condition. The problem is that 90% of the information shared online is of poor quality (Li et al., 2001, Butler et al., 2003). The main reason why is that authors of these w..

While providing no benefit, sharing bad information can even have a detrimental effect on your back!
(...) the prognosis is generally favorable and there is ALWAYS something to do to improve your symptoms.

When we wake up with back pain, one of the first things we do is (unfortunately) to consult Dr. Google to learn more about our condition. The problem is that 90% of the information shared online is of poor quality (Li et al., 2001, Butler et al., 2003). The main reason why is that authors of these websites often lack the qualifications required to discuss such a complex topic. While providing no benefit, sharing bad information can even have a detrimental effect on your back! In medicine, we call this the nocebo effect. You have probably already heard about the placebo effect. For those who have forgotten, the placebo effect refers to the beneficial effect of an intervention due to the anticipation or the belief of a person that this intervention will help. For example, giving someone a sugar pill and telling them it is a powerful medication against headaches will actually lessen his headache.This is especially true if the person really believes he or she has taken a specific headache medication!

The nocebo effect is exactly the opposite. This devil brother of the placebo effect causes a harmful effect instead of a favorable one. Hence, if you read or hear something negative related to your back problems, there is a good chance that it will have an impact on your pain. For example, many people saw their symptoms worsen when their MRI indicated “L4-L5 disc herniations” or “degeneration associated with multi-stage osteoarthritis”. The same goes when a doctor tells his patient he “needs surgery or will otherwise won’t be able to walk anymore”! Although unfounded, this information can have a devastating effect on patients and long-term prognosis (say hello to chronic pain!).

What I would like you to remember is that only a minority of back problems are serious and require urgent intervention. For the rest, the prognosis is generally favorable and there is ALWAYS something to do to improve your symptoms. Next time you wish to educate yourself on your condition, it is crucial that you seek quality information from qualified professionals.

Lombafit Studio was created by certified physiotherapists and aims to help those with back pain improve their symptoms and quality of life. In addition to offering group classes specifically designed for the treatment of back pain, we focus on educating our clients. Visit www.lombafitstudio.com to benefit from several free content such as an educational booklet, as well as access to several useful articles. Finally, we regularly hold free back pain workshops at the studio to help the local community.

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