Goal of the Study?
The goal of this study is to learn more about a patient’s perception and expected outcome when a diagnosis is shared with them regarding their low back pain. In a recent paper published in the European Spine Journal1 the authors wanted to know how diagnostic labels influenced the participants. Did labelling a patient with a common diagnosis create poorer expectations and outcomes?
Why are they doing this study?
Patients with back pain listen intently to what the doctor delivers through a diagnosis. People are curious, and this group of researchers was similarly curious about the effects of labelling a patient and their perception. Common diagnoses include lumbar sprain, non-specific low back pain, disc bulge, episodic low back pain, disc degeneration and arthritis. Do these diagnostic labels affect a patient’s trajectory of care?
Two questions were asked of 1447 participants with and without low back pain.
Question 1. When you hear the diagnosis of lumbar strain, non-specific low back pain, episodic back pain, disc bulge, disc degeneration or arthritis, what words or feelings does this make you think of?
Question 2. When you hear these diagnostic labels, what type of treatment do you think they receive?
What did they find?
Several themes emerged from the questioning. The first theme was that a poorer prognosis was found in those that were labelled with a disc bulge, disc degeneration and arthritis, while a good prognosis was found in those for lumbar sprain, non-specific low back pain and episodic back pain.
Why do these findings matter?
The authors of this paper suggest that clinicians should avoid diagnostic labels of disc bulge, disc degeneration and arthritis when communicating with patients with lower back pain.
Commentary from Dynamic Disc Designs CEO Jerome Fryer DC.
This paper simply demonstrates the disconnect between the translation of common diagnoses of lower back pain to patients. Our models help the clinician explain disc bulge, arthritis and degeneration in a non-fearful way to help describe these findings. It is all in the hands of the clinicians caring for low back pain patients to properly explain a simple, common disc bulge, for example. Our Professional LxH Model demonstrates this without cause for concern. This popular model can also show arthritis and degeneration. In the future, I look forward to including ddd models in the patient education of low back research. JF