Language Usage

It is essential for healthcare professionals to communicate clearly and effectively with their patients.

It is often worth clarifying what patients mean by specific words. Especially when they say 'acute', or 'chronic' as patients often attribute different meanings to these commonly used words.

By using the correct phrases and language, you can reassure your patient without confusing or worrying them unnecessarily.

It is very important to stress the following messages to a patient who is suffering from back pain:

  •  "You will not cause any further damage by moving your back."
  •  "You will do more harm to your back if you allow it to stiffen up."
  •  "Pain is not related to doing damage to your back."
  •  "Exercise will hurt as the muscles get fit."
  •  "Taking painkillers does not mean you will hurt yourself without knowing it."

What to avoid

To avoid worrying your patient unnecessarily, try to avoid using words like:

  •  "Crumbling spine"
  •  "Degeneration"
  •  "Wear and tear"

Here are some suggested responses that you could use if a patient or report mentions the above phrases:

  •  "Degenerative changes are a bit like getting grey hair, they should not limit what you do."
  •  "Instead of wear and tear, I like to say wear and repair."
  • " Just like getting wrinkles on the outside, it is normal to get wrinkles on the inside"