Myths About Back Pain

Myths about back pain, and how can you cope when it strikes!

 If you suffer from back pain you may have heard these words used to explain the reason for your discomfort: Disc bulges, weak cores, joints out of place

 While back pain can be very painful and worrying, it is very common and rarely dangerous.  A total of 84 percent of people worldwide will actually experience back pain during their lifetime. And it is common across all age groups so shouldn’t be seen as the result of wear and tear. 


Do I need to have a scan to help identify what is causing my back pain?

A lot of people have this belief, and because it’s a trusted health care profession advising the scan they think it’s the right thing to do. 

 But actually, a scan is only needed when a serious condition is suspected for instance, infection, cancer or a fracture. But these conditions are extremely rare and account for only 1 percent of back pain. 

 The problem with having a scan is that it will always show something, and the stuff it showing most likely isn’t the cause of your back pain. Research has actually shown that people who don’t have back pain, have disc changes and arthritis, which is normal. It comes with age and is not dangerous and shouldn’t be painful.

Scans often result in lengthy reports containing lots of scary terms that are more damaging than good.  Knowing what is going on with you back won’t take away the pain, it may even make it worse because your more aware, more cautious and fearful of movement. 


Is my back vulnerable and easily damaged or put out of place?

 Most people think the spine is delicate and needs to be protected. This is incorrect and this thought leads to protective guarding, avoidance, and fear. 

A common term I hear on a daily basis in the clinic is “my disc has slipped out of place”. However, scientific research has clearly shown that these structures down go out of place or slip. The spine is a strong robuststructure that is supported by ligament, and muscles. 

Moving without fear, and not restricting certain movements will actually promote the recovery of your back pain. 

 I have a weak core, do I need to do core exercises to help my back pain?

 So core exercise has become very popular, but it has been proven that core exercises are no more effective that other types of exercise for back pain for example walking, in fact research has shown that people with back pain actually over work their core muscles. 


I’m afraid to bend down and lift something.

The back is designed for bending and lifting. It is important to be trained to bend and lift. The more often you do it the strong and more resilient your back will become. 

I have back pain there must be damage or injury.

Actually, people can have back pain and have no damage at all. When in fact the pain you experiencing is just your brains way of trying to protect you. So, fear of damage, low mood, depression, stress, sleep problems, low levels of physical activity drive the pain you are experiencing.

Ever had a headache when your stressed, tired or run down? Back pain is no different.  

Rest will help my pain?

Since people often think they have done damage when they got back pain, it is common for people to go to bed and rest until all that pain is gone. But there is strong evidence that keeping active and returning to usual activities is better for a full recovery. Rest is associated with high levels of pain, disability and longer absence from work.


Surgery is not the answer: 

Unfortunately people are sent for surgery far too quickly, when in fact in the long term exercise and physiotherapy has proven to be have better results. Surgery is also another trauma, which causes more compensations in your body and may lead to more pain. 

Don’t be afraid of exercise. 

Exercise is helpful to back pain. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga all have similar effects on back pain,

Unfortunately, many people are frightened of exercise.  Research shows that exercise is not bad for your back. Yes, activities may be sore initially but they are not damaging you back, and it will get better the more confident you become. 



Strong meds do not have strong benefits for back pain.

Many people believe a strong pain needs a strong painkiller. This is not true, if you have back pain start with a simple over the counter painkiller don’t rush for prescriptions. research has shown that strong painkillers that contain an opioid do not provide greater pain relief and have greater potential for harm.  Opioids promote dependence, overdose, falls, fractures, and depression.


All in all, think of your back pain like a sprain, it is very painful at the start but it gets better with movement, avoiding movement will not help the pain you experience is unique to you and can be driven by your emotions and your neurology.