Why do I keep saying this over and over?

Have you ever realized that you say the same thing a lot? I'm not just talking about when you are trying to get your children to do something that they don't want to do. There are certain phrases that we tend to use, and then use again, and again, and again. I have found myself saying the same thing a lot this week. Then I realized that I say it A LOT... not just this week but every week. 

I picked up this phrase from Dr. Stuart McGill when I attended a continuing education seminar with him in 2013 and have been using it more and more over the past 8 years. Dr. McGill is the world's foremost researcher on the topic of lower back pain. One of the most knowledgeable researchers used the phrase "It depends" in just about every case of lower back pain that we discussed during that seminar. 

Why would a man who is that knowledgeable about a topic constantly use that phrase? There must be some reason that he went back to that statement over and over during the weekend. Quickly, I realized that he wasn't saying it because he didn't know what was happening. He wasn't saying it to avoid giving an answer. He was saying it because when we talk about something like lower back pain there are an insane amount of factors that play a role in the experience of lower back pain. Dr. McGill used that statement out of humility. He was knowledgeable enough about the subject to admit that as much as he knows about lower back pain, he cannot possibly know everything about this person's case. He was also comfortable admitting that our collective knowledge is ever-evolving and constantly changing.

"It depends" is something I say now. I am comfortable in admitting that despite everything that I have learned about lower back pain over the past 20+ years, I cannot possibly know everything that there is to know about a specific case. More often than not, the patient knows more about their specific pain than I ever could. The key is asking the right questions to learn more. The more questions we ask, the more that we can learn. The more that we learn, the more certain we can be in our diagnosis and that our treatment plan will help. 

So when you hear someone (like me) say "It depends," it is not to try to avoid answering the question. It is often to avoid answering the question incorrectly.

  Movement is my medicine,


Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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