Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for medical visits and lost work days in the western countries. The degree of pain and duration vary greatly but luckily most of the cases are treated without surgery. Approximately 40% 0f people suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives.
There are many myths surrounding conditions of the spine and back pain… how can you tell fact from fiction?
Here’s a quick guide to help you.
1. “Rest is the best way to reduce chronic pain and improve recovery.” – False
Lying down for prolonged periods (more than a few days) can be detrimental to recovery from chronic back pain. Staying active helps strengthen the healing muscles and maintain healthy range of motion. It is important during back pain recovery to slowly rebuild and strengthen the muscles in your back, increasing the range of motion through a program of gentle lower back exercises.
2. “The spine is very delicate and prone to injuries.” – False
The spinal column, with its surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments is a strong yet flexible and supportive multipurpose structure. When healthy, the bones of the spine are strong and dense.
3. “If the pain persist you just have to live with it.” – False
Chronic back pain can be treated in many different ways. If the pain starts conditioning your daily activities, see a specialist right away.
4. “If you stay thin and fit you won’t develop back pain.” – False
Although it is true that obesity increases the chances of developing chronic back pain, maintaining a tone figure does not guarantee a pain-free life! Individuals that partake in certain high-risk activities such as golf or tennis are more prone to back pain than those who participate in lower-impact activities such as swimming and Pilates. For example, tone and fit cyclists – spending most of their training time in an hunched-over position – are prone to lower back pain.
5. “An MRI scan is always recommended to find out the exact cause of the pain” – False
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan is a diagnostic test typically used when patients are not responding to treatment or for surgical planning. An accurate diagnosis of the cause of back pain requires a combination of medical history and physical exams and may not require this kind of diagnostic tests.
6. “It will only get worse as you age.” – False
The incidence of back pain is actually highest between the ages of 35 and 55. It is true that disc degeneration is a natural part of the aging process, but this is not always accompanied by pain.
7. “One of your parents always had bad back pain, so you are likely to have it.” – False
For the vast majority of conditions related to back and neck pain, there is no genetic predisposition. There are no scientific studies that can substantially back up the theories linking back pain and DNA.