As a women’s health physio who treats a LOT of back pain I am often asked by clients if they should get an MRI, or treat clients who are eager to show me the MRIs they’ve already had done.
I get it, Images of your spine offer something concrete. You’d think if you SEE what’s structurally wrong, you’d know how to fix it, right? Unfortunately not. What appears on an MRI doesn’t always align with your symptoms. Pain can exist without significant findings and vice versa.
1. What you can’t do
want to know which positions, movements and activities don’t feel good and why.
I also want to know what you wish you could do that you can’t do because of your pain (or fear of damage), because this is often our WHY for wanting to get better.
2. What you CAN do
More importantly than what you can’t do, I want to know what you CAN do. Finding pain-free ways to move provides our brain with lots of lovely, positive input and can help reduce our threat response. This in turn can help reduce spasm & pain, but also improve our confidence and sense of empowerment.
3. What you think is causing your pain
I want to know what your beliefs are about your pain; what you think is contributing, what you have been told in the past and what you’re visualising is happening in your back. Beliefs are powerful and can heavily influence our pain experience and recovery.
4. What else is going on for you
I want to know what else might be contributing to your pain.
Are you feeling supported?
Are you under a lot of stress?
Are you getting enough rest (not just sleep)?
All of these things can have a huge impact on our pain and ability to heal.
5. What you are expecting from treatment
I often ask “what do you hope to get out of our session today?”. For one, I want to make sure we use our time together wisely. But I also want to know what your past experiences and expectations of physiotherapy are. Are you expecting me to tell you what’s wrong, fix you with my hands and make you feel guilty for not doing your exercises? Or are you expecting me to support you in managing your pain and recovery. Being on the same page is key.