Dr. Maria Kirby and Dr. Zac Lynch
Back pain is extremely common. In fact, 80% of individuals will experience significant back pain at some point during their lifetime. Back pain symptoms can vary from person to person. They can be sharp or dull and/or chronic or acute. There are many myths about back pain floating around the internet, which can make it challenging to determine what is reliable and true. Let us help debunk a few of these myths for you.
5 Myths about low back pain
- Don’t lift heavy objects.
○ There is more to lifting than just the weight of the object, How you lift is also important. We suggest training your back with heavy deadlifts and squats to produce good carryover for lifting heavy objects. Good technique and proper lifting mechanics is also important. When lifting heavy objects, it is recommended to squat down to lift the object while keeping it as close to your body as possible when you stand up. Of course, it is not recommended to lift beyond your capability, but strengthening your back and good body mechanics will help you stay strong and continue lifting heavy objects injury-free.
- Exercise is bad for back pain.
○ Exercise is protective against back pain and very beneficial for individuals experiencing back pain. For acute back injuries, a guided, mild exercise program is recommended. When symptoms are severe, this typically begins as gentle exercise and gradually increases in intensity as pain subsides.
- X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are necessary.
○ X-rays, MRI’s, and CT scans are great, but they do not always work well for back pain. In most cases, imaging is an unnecessary first step. Spine abnormalities are as common in people with back pain as they are in those without back pain. Not to mention, muscle spasms and ligament strains do not show up on these imaging tests. This is why a more thorough physical examination is often more useful.
- Slipped disks require surgery.
○ The cause of back pain is unknown more than 70% of the time. Even when tests confirm a disk is damaged, surgery is often unnecessary. MRI studies show that disk herniations often improve spontaneously with physical therapy and progressive exercise. After 6 weeks, 90% of slipped disks will have gradually improved. Most specialists require conservative treatment without surgery as the initial step for treatment. If back pain continues after attempting conservative treatment, then surgery may be the next recommended course of action.
- Back pain is usually disabling and chronic.
○ There is no denying that back problems can be extremely painful at first. But most people improve and recover quickly over the course of a few weeks. While it is common for back pain to return from time to time, the good news is that most cases are NOT disabling and allow individuals to return to their favorite activities relatively quickly when treated early.
So next time you search “back pain” on Google, do not be fooled by the myths. Instead, we advise you to optimize your recovery and build a resilient back by seeking appropriate care and treatment. You do NOT have to live with back pain forever. Let us help you get out of pain, stay out of pain, and bulletproof your back through the process.