Back pain is something that all of us will experience at some point in our lives – whether it’s severe back pain due to an injury, or chronic back pain that doesn’t appear to have an underlying cause. Whatever is behind our back pain (and however bad the pain actually is), the common factor amongst all sufferers is that they all just want to get better so the pain won’t plague their lives anymore.
Pain is always subjective – what doesn’t cause much discomfort to one person may be a terrible chronic pain for someone else. Because of this, there are always countless different treatments and remedies that will claim to cure your ailments – but far too many of them are myths that will not help, or might even cause more damage and pain.
1. MYTH: Surgery will always cure the underlying problem
FACT: Surgery is never a ‘cure all’ for back pain; it’s not a universal solution, given that the reasons for back pain are numerous. There are some instances where surgery can help with a cause of back pain, such as a physically damaging severe injury, but there are not necessarily any guarantees that the pain itself will disappear.
Surgery is also very unlikely to make any impact on chronic back pain; there will be a number of underlying causes that a simple surgery won’t necessarily fix – alternative forms of treatment will be more likely to work far better with chronic back pain.
2. MYTH: Bed rest flat on your back is the best treatment
FACT: Too much stationary resting, particularly flat on your back in bed, can do more to worsen your back pain than it can to help it. The longer you constantly rest in bed, the stiffer and more tense your back muscles will become – only serving to worsen your pain.
It’s certainly a great idea to limit your activity and not do anything too strenuous but gentle exercises such as light walking and simple stretches is much better for your pain than lying stationary in bed.
3. MYTH: I can’t lift heavy objects anymore
FACT: Common sense of course dictates that you have to be careful when lifting heavy objects if you’re in pain – and if you’ve only just got back on your feet then you’d be quite right to leave any boxes of books right where they are. But in reality, especially when it comes to chronic back pain, you won’t necessarily make your pain worse with lifting.
The thing that’s key to avoiding injury, or worsening of one, is how you lift rather than how much you lift. Use your legs and hips to lift, avoiding any twisting motion or loads on your back – don’t forget that if the load feels too heavy, then it probably is! Never try and lift anything you doubt you’ll be able to manage.
4. MYTH: The level of pain relates to the level of damage
FACT: Again, this is another myth that is only true for certain types of back pain – but is mistakenly applied to all forms of back pain. Acute back pain is likely to be an indication of the damage that may have been cause to your back, nerves or muscles but with chronic back pain (which is far more common) then it’s unlikely to be an indication of damage – often there can be no cause for chronic back pain, so pain doesn’t always equal damage that can be ‘cured’.
5. MYTH: Core muscle workouts are the best form of treatment exercise
FACT: This one is sort of true – but often, the core muscle exercises that people do are sit-ups and back extensions. These are great core exercises, but absolutely the worst type of exercise to do when you’re suffering with back pain – particularly if it’s due to problems with the disks in your back.
These exercises put huge amounts of pressure on your disks and will only serve to make the problem worse. Opt for gentle core exercises that simply support your core muscles, rather than those that try to ‘train’ them.
So if these supposed cures or treatments are myths, then what are we supposed to do? The truth is that there isn’t a universal treatment or cure that can be applied to all forms of back pain, since there are too many causes to even list.
Whether the right choice is surgery, painkillers or physiotherapy, it’s always wise to consult with your doctor or a medical professional first – otherwise you could be doing more harm than good.
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – professional blogger and long-time sufferer of back pain. Research for the above myths has helped Tom to improve his frustrating ailment, as well as physiotherapy from Central Chiropractic Clinic as an on-going treatment.