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We all work hard to provide the most up to date evidence to impact our treatment outcomes for our patients but an equally big part of better treatment outcomes is patient education. I will likely talk more about that on a later post, but for now let's recognize that using analogies and visuals can really bring a greater understanding to the patient of the “why” behind what we are telling them to do.
Sometimes, we use visuals and pictures for our patient education to help a patient return from the brink, if you will; to try and help the patient avoid going to a place of catastrophe. You know the scenario: A patient receives an x-ray or MRI and then they are told about all the structural deformities that are going to cause more pain and functional limitation. Naturally, the patient becomes anxious or worried and then is often scared to even move.
That’s why I keep this study on hand. We, in the rehab world, are learning more and more about so many asymptomatic structural problems that appear on imaging (I use the phrase “wrinkles on the inside” to describe that phenomena to my patients). So we often cite the studies, statistics, and percentages to our patients which is important and helpful. But like I said, I keep this study on hand because a picture is worth 1000 words.
Healed Disk Protrusion
I love to show this study, especially for my patients with low back pain and imaging which confirmed disk issues. When they learn that the bulge nearly disappeared without any surgical intervention but only conservative treatment you can usually feel the anxiety and worry melting away. All of the sudden there is hope as they say out loud, “That healed?” Then I am able to affirm that the body is great at healing. We just have to help facilitate the natural healing process.
I hope you find this article and picture helpful to your patient education and I hope you use it to help reduce anxiety and worry in your patients
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