After six months of treatment for back pain, the doctor has told me I'm "recovered." I may be pain free, but there are still many normal things I can't do yet. How can I be "recovered?"

Doctors and patients may use different measures to gauge recovery. For example the physician may be using improvement in pain to declare you recovered. You may be using return to normal function to define recovery.

It's true pain shouldn't be the only measure of outcome. Is the patient satisfied with the results? Has the patient returned to work and previous level of recreational activity? Health care professionals rarely ask patients if they have recovered their sex life.

Sometimes patients are fatigued and depressed. They may not be coping well with the changes their back pain has brought. The psychologic aspects of back injury and pain or loss of function must be addressed for complete recovery.