Common myths about lower back pain everyone should know

Lower back pain is the greatest source of global disability.

It is ahead of nearly 300 other conditions, leading to huge levels of health care costs and suffering.

They also have a huge impact on the social and family lives of sufferers.

However, many people with lower back pain cannot manage it well because of wrong advice. There are a lot of unhelpful myths about what back pain is and what you should do about it.

Below are 5 most common myths about lower back pain from experts from Manchester Metropolitan University.

You should rest when you have lower back pain

Fact: Do not fear twisting and bending. It is essential to keep moving.

Muscles that are in spasm, due to pain, relax when gently moved and stretched. Gradually increase how much you are doing, and stay on the move.

You should avoid exercise if you have lower back pain

Fact: Back pain should not stop you enjoying exercise or regular activities.

In fact, continuing with these physical activities can help you get better sooner – including weight training.

All exercise is safe provided you gradually build up the intensity and do not immediately return to previous levels of exercise after an acute episode of pain.

You need a scan to tell you exactly what is wrong

Fact: There is a poor correlation between findings on a scan and sources of pain.

Most adults without back pain will have changes in the anatomy of their spine that are visible age-related adaptations that don’t cause any problems (they are the spinal equivalent of skin wrinkles, visible but not a source of pain).

Finding a feature on a spine scan that is strongly related to pain or a serious threat to health is exceptionally rare (less than 1%).

Your lower back pain means there is a damage

Fact: This was an established view, but more recent research has changed our thinking.

Level of pain has little relationship to damage to the spine and more to do with your unconscious and conscious interpretation of the level of threat the pain represents to the sufferer.

Cultural influences, work, stress, past experience and duration of symptoms have a stronger relationship with pain than the number of normal age-related changes you have on your scan.

Heavy school bags can cause lower back pain

Fact: Heavy school bags are safe.

There is no established link between heavy school bags and back pain, but interestingly there is a link with the development of back pain and the child or parent perceiving that the bag will cause problems.

Because back pain is very common, a lot of everyday things, including slouching, twisting, carrying heavy things and exercise, are wrongly blamed for causing or worsening the problem.

Having an episode of spinal pain is a normal event in life and while most episodes are brief it is useful to see a healthcare professional for guidance on aiding recovery on occasion.

And it is much better to take good advice, rather than myths, for a speedier recovery.

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