Thankfully, I’m on the other side of my first episode of acute low back pain, just like the majority of the general population. But I got a good look at why for so many, acute pain can become persistent, disabling, life-changing pain.
When it happened
Someone or something needs to blamed right? I blame the person who wanted to buy my little boat, but eventually didn’t. Preparing for the sale that didn’t happen involved some early morning cleaning and a routine check, but this somehow got me into trouble. Not unusual to have some back pain after physical effort, but something obviously strong enough to get my alarm system pissed off – immediate referred pain everywhere, impossible to bend, could hardly walk and I struggled to get myself back in the car…
I diagnosed myself with acute non-specific low back pain. I planned to be back on my feet within a week. And I was.
With a little help from “friends”?
However, it didn’t get better because of the positive comments in my surroundings…
I wrote down some of the stand-out comments
“Bart… are you ok? You look like you’re shitting your pants!”
“Bart… it should have been better by now..?!” (patient)
“Bart… you should do more sport” (colleague 1)
“Bart… you’re getting older…” (colleague 2)
“Bart… you shouldn’t be at work” (colleague 3)
“Bart… I bet you think it is all in your head, right?” (colleague 4)
“Bart… is it still so bad? It must be something with you discs” (colleague 3 again)
“Daddy… When is your back ok again, I want to play horsey”
“Darling… you should take the car rather than the bike”
Even though my practice is pretty up to date and aware of pain sciences, the truly inner thoughts and beliefs need a bit of adjustment!
See you in Eemnes
Bart lives in Haarlem, The Netherlands, where he works in private multidisciplinary practice (Praktijk Noorder Spaarne) and specialises in treating and supporting people with chronic pain. Bart is responsible for founding the NOI Faculty in the Netherlands and together with Mark Langerhorst he translated the ‘Explain Pain’ text into Dutch. Bart has completed his Masters in Physiotherapy and is enrolled in a PhD program working on the development of an Explain Pain curriculum for clinicians and patients. This research includes a RCT in a CBT + Explain Pain intervention in order to fit the Explain Pain approach into the usual care program of a multidisciplinary pain centre. Bart teaches physiotherapy both at undergraduate and postgraduate level with a focus on pain topics and as a NOI teacher he teaches Explain Pain courses across the Netherlands.