Bulging Disc - Overcome Fear

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Fear Avoidance & Disc Back Pain

Fear avoidance is a psycho-social factor that can have a major impact on back pain and sciatica It is the subconscious or conscious act of avoiding activity for fear of re-injury or making an injury worse. 

The activity can be anything from bending forward, sitting positions, playing golf, and/or just about anything your imagination can come up with.  If these fears are not dealt with in the early stages, then symptoms may not resolve thus creating a “chronic” state of affairs.

Often times the offending injury to our lower back is small and the pain symptoms temporary.  However, it has been my experience that sometimes the pain/discomfort can be self limiting.  The recovery process can be inhibited because of the emotional fears placed on the amount of pain a person is having when they perform a particular activity.  This is especially true in the early stages.  

Many people having suffered a lower back injury never make a complete recovery although they are pain free and asymptomatic.  And it is because they continue to observe self-limiting ideas about what activities might hurt them again.

It has been my clinical experience that one cannot make a complete recovery from back pain and sciatica unless they can overcome the fear their pain has placed over them.

The best way to overcome fear avoidance with back pain and sciatica is to engage in those activities that he/she would otherwise avoid head on with the sole understanding that the activity is indeed safe and harmless to the lower back region.  Only then can a complete recovery be accomplished and back pain or sciatica be put behind us in the past, where it belongs.

The implications that fear avoidance can have on our recovery should not be underestimated.  And only with a proper understanding and honest perspective can we overcome those fears and promote complete healing of bulging disc back pain.



Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist


Bulging disc and fear



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