When back pain flares, our immediate response is to lie down and try not to move in fear of causing more pain. While we know that we need to keep moving to “power through” the pain, it is our natural go-to response.
But there are still several myths that people are following that are causing more pain rather help treat it. So, here are the common back pain myths and what the correct treatment would be.
The crippling pain that you experience that usually comes with back pain will only be alleviated by staying very still on a hard surface. This may help acute back pain, but not chronic back pain – rest for more than 2 days may actually be detrimental to the recovery. This could result in more pain in the future, muscle atrophy, BMD (bone mineral density) loss and creating a psychological mindset that you are ‘ill’.
Gradually increase your movement and, once you’re up and about, keep going.
We normally associate acute pain to damage – such as burning your hand in hot water. However, for pain that lasts for less than 6 weeks, does not generally reflective of any damage. It is likely a sprain or strain of the muscles or ligaments of the back. For those who have back pain lasting more than 6 weeks, you should be your GP.
Many physiotherapists and orthopaedics now take a holistic approach to dealing with back pain. This means that they look at the body and internal/external factors that could be causing pain in the back. While injuries is an obvious cause of pain, other sources could be psychological or even social.
After an episode of back pain, you are likely to feel very protective about your back and avoid anything that may cause the pain to return, such as exercise. However, exercise is universally agreed within the medical community to be the best method for treating back pain – whether acute or chronic.
Nearly every exercise has shown great benefits to combating back pain, whether it is weight training or cardio.
However, overexerting yourself may cause injury. It is best to start off slow and then slowly increase resistance.
Posture is a complicated as there are certainly some postures which are better for your back. The bottom line is that staying in any position for too long is bad for your back – leading to weakness, dysfunction and pain.
Sitting up straight is a common posture that people try to adhere to. But, constantly overextending your back places more stress on your lower back, leading to overuse injuries.
The best practice is to not stay still for too long – if your sitting for long periods, try standing and walking every hour. Also, try and move your joints while sitting down. This will wake up your muscles without anyone noticing.
X-Rays and MRI scans are mostly irrelevant to detecting back pain and can, in fact, result in more pain. Most scans results either show nothing out of the ordinary or find something that is not related to the symptoms of back pain.
The problem that arises is when people see changes in their spine that have no correlation to their symptoms. They associate the pain to the change and become protective of their spine, resulting in a fear of exercising – the treatment that will make the person better.
Even though most back pain scans usually come back normal, pain still exists. This doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t there or has gone away. It just means that it isn’t showing up on any scans. However, the scan should give back pain suffers peace of mind that it isn’t something serious, like cancer.
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