Many myths about back pain are not helpful in the management of this common and persistent problem that often involves complex treatments with various risks and complications. The preconceived ideas about the causes, diagnosis and treatment may be aggravating factors in the persistency of symptoms. Here are ten most common myths about back pain.
1. Rest helps relieve back pain
Formerly, doctors recommend people with chronic back pain (which persisted at least 6 weeks) to rest more. Currently, researchers found that prolonged rest (over 1-2 days) rarely helps relieve symptoms. Recent studies have found that bed rest can actually aggravate back pain, while physical movement can have the opposite effect. In most cases, muscle stretching exercises, swimming or walking helps to remove the discomfort and get you in a better physiological state.
2. Getting rid of excess weight prevents back pain
People with excess weight may have a higher risk of developing back pain, but there are also many patients with this medical condition who have a normal weight or are even underweight.
Back pain affects men and women equally, usually between 30 and 50. Among the factors that predispose to this problem include age, trauma, lack of exercise, incorrect body posture, improper sleeping position, smoking and stress. Excessive weight is just one of the risk factors that contribute to back pain.
3. Chronic back pain is treated through surgery
In most cases, chronic back pain is treated by another type of noninvasive therapies, including small changes in lifestyle. Only in very severe cases that cannot be managed with drugs is surgery an option.
4. A chiropractor can treat back pain permanently
Chiropractic massage can temporarily relieve back pain by stimulating endorphins which alleviate discomfort, but its effects are not valid on the long term. Since 96 % -99 % of back pain goes away by itself in a few days, visiting a chiropractor is not a must for everyone.
Research on chiropractic massage benefits found that this type of therapy provides a slight improvement of the physical condition, but it is recommended only when other methods of pain relief have failed or did not provide results after a few days of treatment.
5. Chronic back pain sufferers need drugs
Completely false, according to experts. Usually, anti-inflammatory drugs and those with a relaxing effect on the muscles give the best results in preventing back pain. Narcotics, although having a stronger analgesic effect, may stimulate aggressive pain receptors in the brain.
Finally, the patient becomes tempted to increase the dose because of increased discomfort, entering a vicious circle. For this reason, narcotics are not a good option in the control of back pain.
6. Traditional medicine does not recommend acupuncture for treating back pain
Recently, the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommends, unanimously, the use of acupuncture to treat chronic back pain. This complementary treatment was accepted by traditional medicine, especially after studies in the field shown that this therapy can be even more effective than conventional treatment for this medical condition.
7. Chronic back pain persists throughout life
Even if it is a common problem, chronic back pain is not a life sentence. With proper management of discomfort and a better prevention of symptoms, patients with chronic back pain can maintain their back in top form, even if they had severe pain at some point in life.
Respecting an active lifestyle, slight warming of the body before exercise, weight control and smoking cessation are excellent measures to prevent chronic back pain.
8. Severe back pain can degenerate into paralysis
The spine ends in the lumbar region of the body where the nerve roots have a robust structure. In most cases, back pain does not indicate a medical problem that can lead to paralysis. Examples of rare cases in which paralysis is a real risk in the presence of low back pain are spinal tumors, spinal infections or unstable spinal fractures.
9. Active people do not risk developing chronic back pain
While it is true that active people have a lower predisposition to back pain, this problem can occur regardless of the level of physical activity. Some sports increase susceptibility against lumbar discomfort, such as volleyball, golf and gymnastics.
10. Back pain worsens with age
On the contrary, says medical statistics. The incidence of low back pain is usually greatest between 35 and 55. After this threshold age, pain tends not to be as sharp.
Have you ever suffered form back pain? What kind of treatment did you use to fight this condition?