09 Nov Common Myths About Back Pain
We want to set the record straight about some of the misconceptions we hear every day at the clinic. Here is a list we've compiled of the top 5 myths surrounding back pain....
Myth #1: Resting when you have back pain
Research has proven that being sedentary - that is, lying down and not moving for fear of injuring your back further - is an absolute myth. The body, and in particular the spine, needs movement to continue to function and to heal itself. “Movement” is as simple as a walk, wearing sturdy, shock absorbing footwear at a comfortable speed. Swimming is also very good exercise when you have a sore back as it takes out the element of gravity on the spine. So the old adage “don’t take back pain lying down” still rings true.
Myth #2: Back pain is always caused by something “being out”
Many people believe that they experience back pain because a joint or disc is “out”. Commonly we hear phrases like “my pelvis is out and needs to be put back in”. This terminology is again a fallacy. Most back pain is due to damage of the structures that surround the spinal joints eg. ligaments, muscles and tendons which all support the joints in the spine. All of these are pain-sensitive so hence why your back hurts! This type of back pain is known in the business as mechanical low back.
The “mechanics” of the joints aren’t working well and thus mobility is lost – momentarily of course. That’s where treatment with an osteopath comes in. We calm the area down so that it is not as painful and then gently encourage movement within a safe range. We also can recommend some home based exercises to help as well.
Myth #3: Surgery is needed to cure back pain
Again another myth. Very few people require surgery to help with their back pain. With mechanical low back pain (as mentioned in point 2) the results of surgery are actually no better than a rehabilitation program provided by an osteopath or exercise physiologist. Less than half of patients experience good outcomes from surgery, with many still experiencing pain and having limited movement. There are obviously a lot more risks with surgery such as infection which can hinder recovery as well.
Myth #4: An X-ray or MRI is required to identify what’s caused your back pain
Scans such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs may not provide any useful information and can cause you more angst by identifying harmless changes or incidental findings. There is often no correlation between degenerative changes identified on X-ray and symptoms. We often see scans that look good, however the patient is in severe pain. Other scans we see indicate a very worn out spine however the patient is experiencing NO pain. Our osteopaths discuss your back pain to get an understanding of what caused your back to start hurting then pair this with movement tests to work out a diagnosis. Scans are often unnecessary and costly!
Myth #5: Once you have back pain, you must live with it for the rest of your life
There is always a possibility that your back pain will return. One of the main focuses of our osteopathic treatments is devising a management plan (which may include teaching you to identify the triggers for your back pain, on-going maintenance treatments or a home based exercise program).
This plan helps you prevent recurrences and teaches you how to deal with future flare ups.
How We Can Help You?
Our osteopaths will identify the factors that may be contributing to your back pain and devise an individual treatment plan and management program SPECIFIC FOR YOU.
We’ll also check if any underlying health conditions could be contributing to your back pain. We will arm you with knowledge about your problem and a clear path towards being a healthier you. Getting you back to full movement and enjoying life again is our number one aim!
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