Education And Debate

label is unhelpful

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 23 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:986
  1. Jos H Verbeek, occupational health physician (
  1. Academic Medical Centre, Coronel Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health, PO Box 22700 Meibergdreef 15, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    How useful is it to label a set of complaints as failed back surgery syndrome or post-discotomy syndrome? My view is that, far from improving a patient's condition, such a label may even play a part in its deterioration. Even the authors of articles who use these diagnostic terms admit that they are better avoided since they do not help to identify a cause or a treatment. After all, the only characteristics that these patients share are that they have been operated on for back pain and that non-specific back related complaints returned at some point after the operation.13 I prefer the term non-specific back pain because this provides us with …

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