I saw a TV program on back pain designed to help people get back to work as soon as possible. The program host kept talking about avoiding "medicalizing" the problem. What does that mean exactly?

Medicalizing a problem means giving a patient the idea that a problem can be "fixed" or "cured" by someone else. The patient takes a very passive role in his or her own health care and recovery.

In the medicalization model the patient takes very little responsibility. When treatment is stopped, the symptoms come back or the patient gets worse.

The best program for most back pain is one that promotes patient confidence in movement. Fear of pain can result in avoiding certain movements. This sets the patient up for more pain and creates a vicious cycle of inactivity and pain.

Information and advice about back pain, back care, and exercise seems to be the most effective for acute back pain. The more a patient can do for him or herself, the better.