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“I’ve got the flu, so I’ll only come out for a bit tonight”

“I’ll have a double expresso”

“I shouldn’t of brought those shoes”

Aaargh! OK...stop, stop, stop!

You’ve not had influenza – that’s a deadly disease; you have a cold.

It’s espresso thank you very much

It’s shouldn’t have, never shouldn’t of

 “Ah well, you know what I mean – don’t be so pedantic”

So, being a pedant is kind of my thing and I know it’s annoying for anyone who is on the receiving end of my boring habit.  Imagine, though how annoying it is for me to see so many stupid things that are wrong every day that I can do nothing about.  It’s an affliction.

Pedantry, though, can be a calming presence because it brings a bit of order to a chaotic mind and a chaotic world.  Having a set routine is OK.  Doing things the same way in the same order at the same time is necessary for the world to function.  We are all actually pedantic – it explains why you shop in the shops that you do and prefer the music that you do. It’s all human behaviour that no one is immune to.  It can of course get in the way when it prevents you from functioning normally and the often trivialised obsessive compulsive disorder is a hideous mental health problem.

So, what’s this got to do with anything?  Well, I (and I’m 100% sure all and any practitioner dealing with people in pain) hear every single day little instances of words, phrases and metaphors relating to pain that are actually deeply unhelpful to the person using them.  “My back’s gone out” is such a common one (“Oh yeah? Where’s it gone?” I would say – usually to blank stares).  This is of course a metaphor that doesn’t seem to mean anything.  But when we drill down a little it really does.

 It makes a lot of sense (despite being spectacularly wrong) that back pain is to do with the bones of the spine coming out of place, or being misaligned.  It therefore makes logical sense that manipulating the displaced bone puts it snugly back into place and job done.   If this makes sense to the patient and they get relief so what if their interpretation is a bit simplistic?  Well, the problem lies in the idea that we are so fragile that certain movements can push bones out of place in the first place.  This line of thinking encourages us to use our bodies in a very different way to a way that would be natural for us.  Instead of using all those lovely joints in our backs to bend smoothly forwards to tie our laces, we are now told to move as though we had a broom handle stuck up us. 

Our nervous system doesn’t need us to pre-plan and map out every intricate movement involved in walking – we don’t need to consciously brace our calf muscles and suck in our quads (however the hell you’d do that) to step off a pavement.  So why do the rules change when it comes to picking up our socks off the floor?

If the belief is that “it’s out” then someone else must be sought to put it “back in”.  This robs the pain sufferer from the control they actually have to be in charge of their own body.  By understanding the factors that may have been building up to it being “out” (sleep, stress, exercise for instance) then maybe it won’t come “out” so much in the future.  By knowing that it is anatomically implausible for anything to be “out” then maybe the stress and anxiety and desperate need to be seen within hours of feeling the onset of pain is distinguished. 

Imagine that – your back hurts one morning and you think to yourself “oh well, I’m sure it’ll be fine in a few days”.

That’s maybe why being pedantic about this may be a huge deal for the back pain epidemic.  Repeat after me “It’s not “out” – it’s never “out””

Thanks for reading

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Clinig Corff Ystwyth,
Park Avenue,
Aberystwyth, Wales
SY23 1PB. 

01970 611190

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