There are many pervasive myths surrounding lower back pain that hinder recovery. A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on. In this blog the truth is catching up. Let’s correct five widely accepted myths regarding lower back pain.
Myth I: “I’ve Slipped a Disc”
Discs do not slip anywhere. The disc is the cushion that separates each vertebrae in the spine. When injured, discs become torn and can bulge. The outer layer of the disc is a tough ring. Deeper inside the disc is a fluid. When injuries occur, the outer layer tears and the fluid migrates outwards into the tear. This can create a disc bulge.
These injuries can vary from a minor, unnoticeable occurrence to a severe and debilitating injury. Importantly, the severity of the pain that occurs with injury doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of the injury.
Myth II: “I Just Picked Up The Cat and My Back Gave Way”
Unless you’ve got a severely obese cat, there’s more to the story.
Patients are often struck by severe lower back pain while doing something innocuous, like picking something up from the floor. The trivial nature of the movement that brought about the injury actually betrays a deeper problem. This back was weakened and ready to fail under the smallest movement.
Injuries in the spine can build slowly over time, typically with prolonged sitting or repetitive movements. Sometimes this manifests as a frequent dull pain. In other cases, pain arrives all at once when performing a basic movement. So, don’t blame the cat. The answer is to move more, strengthen your back and avoid prolonged sitting.
Myth III: “I Need A Scan”
Scans are necessary in some cases, such as after significant trauma or for patients with considerable neurological symptoms. We will also refer patients for scans if a systemic illness is suspected. However, When it comes to lower back pain, scans are rarely useful. They often provide no helpful information to guide your treatment. Hyper-sensitive scans like MRIs often report so much detail that they make patients believe their injury is far worse than it is.
Myth IV: “My Injured Back Needs Lots of Time To Rest”
The best thing for most injured backs is to keep active. Patients recover much quicker if they keep moving and working as much as possible. Studies have shown the vital muscles that support the spine can waste away after just 3 days of bed rest. Gentle movement is also an effective way to remove inflammation from the injury site.
Walking and seated abdominal clenches are a great way to keep muscles working. Your chiropractor will give you additional specific exercises for your particular injury.
Myth V: “Pain-Killers Are The Best Answer”
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can be useful in the first few days of acute low back pain. However, they should not be relied upon as the only source of relief as they do not address the underlying causes. Riskier prescription drugs (such as endone) should be avoided entirely if possible.
This information is for general education. It may not be relevant to you and your condition and cannot replace a back pain consultation with a Chiropractor or other healthcare practitioner. Please book an appointment to get your specific diagnosis and treatment plan.
Scott Leabeater is The Backstory Chiropractic’s Principal Chiropractor. Scott uses up to date research literature to guide an evidence based approach to diagnosis and treatment. His unique professionalism and knowledge has made Scott highly sought after. Throughout his career he has treated everyone from local office workers to Olympic athletes. Scott is an AHPRA registered Chiropractor and member of Chiropractic Australia.