Have you ever been told your back, your neck or your hip is out? Ever stop to think about what “out” means? Is it dislocated, locked, out of alignment or is it out searching for a better body!
The word “out” can be loosely used by some professionals but it is nowhere to be found in any medical text and it can be a misnomer when describing a medical problem. Poor terminology can create poor psychological associations with pain. The ongoing effect of poor word association can have a flow on effect on recovery and/or can create long term misinterpretations of a medical problem.
Why is the word “out” being used?
A person describing their own pain may be indicating their pain severity or a feeling of being unable to move due to pain (e.g. waking up with a stiff neck may described as “my neck is out”). In the case of a professional it may be used as a laymen’s term descriptor of alteration of alignment in any part of the body.
Can the spine go “out”?
If the word “out” is referring to dislocation then this is extremely rare and often associated with severe trauma. When referring to “out of alignment” then yes it can go out of alignment but this descriptor really needs to be carefully communicated. You only need to glance at the natural world to see that perfect alignment is not necessary for perfectly normal function. Things can shift in and out of alignment naturally and without pain.
If it isn’t out then why can’t I move?
Most people have at some stage had an innocuous injury or have woken up with a stiff neck or back. This is more likely the end result of a culmination of some sort of strain pattern, a pre-existing injury, or delayed response to a strain. When tissues get stressed whether through trauma or strain they have a threshold or set point to what stress they can withstand. When the threshold is passed then the body will respond with our own repair mechanisms to the area to start work on repair. Areas under repair do not repair well with movement so it may feel painful or stiff.
Can it be put back in?
Clearly we have established that the word “out” may be a misnomer so having a practitioner put something back in may not necessarily b