Back pain is a common medical complaint. People often seek solutions for their back pain from friends and family, as well as internet. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Let’s look at some of the most common misconceptions about back pain and set the record straight.
If you have back pain, you should rest until the pain stops.
False. While you may need to limit some activities to avoid making the pain worse, it is important to keep moving as much as you can. Active patients often recover more quickly than those who remain inactive. Bed rest can be helpful, but for no more than 3 days with intermittent stretching throughout the day.
Exercise makes back pain worse.
Sometimes false. Those who keep up a regular exercise routine generally have stronger back and abdominal muscles, which help to support and take pressure off the spine. Exercise is an important part of recovery for those who suffer from back pain. However, those with acute back pain should avoid exercise.
If I see a doctor for my back pain, he or she will try to convince me to have surgery.
False. Unless there is severe spinal trauma, or you have serious symptoms such as incontinence, instability, an inability to walk, changes in neurologic function, numbness, tingling, weight loss, body aches, or night sweats, most doctors will try to treat you with nonsurgical methods first. Surgery is only considered when nonsurgical methods fail to yield improvement. In fact, many back problems can be treated successfully without the need for surgery.
If my back hurts, I must have injured it.
Sometimes false. It is true that injury can cause back pain, but it is not the only cause. Disc degeneration, diseases, and infection are also common causes of back pain.
Nonsurgical treatment for back pain is the same for most conditions–pain medication, ice packs, and physical therapy.
False. While treatment may be similar for several conditions, it is important to see a doctor to find out what is causing your pain. Once your doctor has pinpointed the source of your pain, he or she can give you a treatment plan that fits your needs, including exercises that help your condition. This allows for more rapid pain relief removes the uncertainty of your condition.
Back pain is a problem for older people; it’s a normal part of aging.
False. While older people are often more susceptible to back and spinal conditions due to the normal wear and tear of aging, young people experience back pain too. Some people are born with spinal defects that can cause back problems. Younger people involved in sports can also experience back pain due to injury or repetitive motion. Furthermore, back pain does not have to be a part of the aging process. Living a healthy lifestyle and practicing good posture can decrease your chances of suffering from back pain as you get older.
A massage will help relieve my back pain.
Sometimes false. A massage can help in some cases, but can cause more pain in others. It’s very important to see a doctor to identify the source of the pain before beginning any treatment regimen, including massage therapy. Massages can help to relieve tension and stiffness caused by chronic back pain. However, if your pain is caused by instability, a massage in the unstable area can worsen the instability, and thereby worsen your pain.
Do you have any questions about back pain for Dr. Gleiber? Visit his contact page or tweet @GleiberMD.