Myths surrounding Low Back Pain
Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common causes of injury, disability and time away from work/recreation. There are many myths surrounding LBP that contribute to the chronicity and level of disability associated.
Top 5 Low Back Pain Myths
Pain indicates that my back is getting damaged more.
False! Pain does not necessarily mean more damage. Pain can vary amongst all people and our brains have the ability to amplify or turn down the amount of pain we feel. Why? Our brains are the main processors and help with interpreting and regulating the different signals our body experiences. With low back pain, our brains have interpreted what is happening in the low back and sending pain as an output to give us a warning. This means that the brain may be perceiving movement as threatening, and thus sending out pain signals, when in fact we know movement helps to improve back pain.
I should rest more to get better.
This may be true initially as it is recommended to avoid aggravating activities for pain relief, however, prolonged rest is actually more harmful for your low back, as well as being associated with poorer recovery and higher levels of pain. There is strong evidence suggesting that gradually returning to normal activities and staying as active as possible is more beneficial for your recovery.
I need a scan to understand what is happening in my back.
For the majority of cases, X-rays and MRIs are not needed. In fact, a large number of adults will have evidence of disc degeneration and disc bulges on their scans regardless of whether they experience lower back pain or not. This indicates that these are relatively normal changes in the back with time, and any “abnormal” findings are incidental. Therefore, we now know that it is often not necessary to acquire a scan as it does not impact the management at all.
My spine is deformed or physically damaged.
There is no evidence that LBP is caused by a bone or joint in your back being out of place, or your pelvis being out of alignment. Having your back manipulated is not putting anything back in place – there was never anything ‘out of place’! This also applies to the common perception that discs can move or ‘pop’ in and out. As there is nothing physically out of place, this means that moving your back does not place you at great risk of further injury. In fact, moving your back is beneficial for recovery.
I will need surgery now or in the future for my back pain.
Very few back pain sufferers are actually good candidates for surgery, and thorough assessment should be done to determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery. For most patients, you will be required to undergo conservative management initially anyway, and many find that their pain improves significantly from this management alone. If your doctor or physiotherapist suspects you may need surgery, they will address this and refer you on to be assessed by a surgeon.
Treatment options for LBP
The best treatment for LBP is exercise, including a variety of cardiovascular exercise, strengthening, stretching and releasing muscles. Quite commonly muscles in the lower back, hip and thigh region are extremely tight to compensate for poor postures and contribute to the pain being experienced. Below is a video, where Bertrand, our director physiotherapist, demonstrates how to foam roll your iliotibial band (ITB), a notoriously tight muscle. This foam rolling technique can also be used on lots of other muscles and can be used during episodes of back pain, or when there is no back pain at all.
If you are after more information on exercises specific to lower back pain relief and stretching or foam rolling, please do not hesitate to give us a call!
If you are or know someone who is suffering with low back pain of any kind, contact us today to book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists!
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Imagine a life free from aches and pain!