Monday, December 22, 2014

5 Myths about Low Back Pain

Commonly held beliefs about low back pain can prevent you from getting better in the long run.  Here are five common myths about low back pain that are still being perpetuated by both health care professionals and lay people alike.

  • Back pain goes away 
  • You see this a lot in the literature. People are told that episodes of back pain usually go away within 4-8 weeks. The reality is that if you have suffered from back pain the past you are more likely to struggle with back pain in the future, unless you have performed some targeted strengthening to help build back your core strength and stability. Old injuries can leave “scars” that result in weakened muscles and joints as well as alterations in your nervous system leading to faulty muscle control.
  • Rest is best 
  • Patients with low back pain are being told to rest to heal their injury.  Modern scientific understanding now shows that movement is the way to get much-needed nutrients to the spine and its structures. Lack of movement impairs the spine’s ability to heal.
  • There is one thing wrong and one cure 
  • No injury ever happens by itself and therefore there is no magic pill that will take back pain away. Overcoming and preventing pain means you need a number of different tools in your pocket which include movement, core strengthening, proper lifting techniques, lifestyle changes, weight loss for some and therapy for others.
  • Back pain is related to aging 
  • People with the highest incidence of back pain are between the ages of 35 and 55. After age 55, the incidence of back pain goes down. I think it’s important to point out that the causes of back pain differ in people under the age of 55. People under the age of 55 are more likely to suffer from disc injuries while people over the age of 55 are more likely to have pain due to joint degeneration.
  • An MRI will tell you what’s causing your pain. 
  • Some people have findings on MRI that suggest they should be in great pain, when they have very little discomfort. There are many people who have completely normal MRIs and are in substantial pain. According to the guidelines set forth by the American College of Physicians, MRIs are warranted for cancer, infection, nerve damage, or pain that gets worse after a period of treatment.

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