Lower back pain is ubiquitous in the United States and throughout the world. By age 40, 80% of Americans will experience a significant back pain episode. Many people have misinformation about back pain which not only increases the risk for the condition but also lowers their chances for recovery. This article will discuss common inaccuracies circulating about achieving low back pain relief.
In the research journal Physiotherapy International Research, October 2021 questionnaires were completed by 3724 adults which revealed that many people have false beliefs about low back discomfort. Let’s explore some of the myths that should be uncovered.
Some patients and even some healthcare practitioners believe that x-ray and MRI imaging is the be all and end all of diagnosing lower back conditions. While imaging is important to identify fractures, dislocations or cancer it is only part of the equation in determining the mechanical back discomfort that most people suffer. I’ve seen many cases of patients whose examination included only an MRI or x-ray. When these tests were found to be “normal” the patient experiencing back discomfort was told there was nothing wrong and they would have to live with it.
As a practicing chiropractor of over 37 years, I am trained to look at the whole person. X-rays and MRIs are tests that I like to obtain. However, my examination also includes palpation (feeling) the muscles, fascia and other soft tissue for spasm, tension and inflammation. I also examine the alignment of the spine and pelvis and the posture generally. Orthopedic and neurologic tests help add to my diagnostic impression. Combined, these testing procedures help to identify the true cause of the back pain and the best methods to use in providing relief for back pain.
Another myth that circulates is that surgery is needed for disk herniation. In reality, back surgery should only be performed in a small percentage of conditions involving herniation of a disk. Over 90% of disc problems can be treated, conservatively and safely with chiropractic care.
Another misbelief is that bedrest and a sedentary lifestyle should be the mainstay of therapy.
While it is true that a person may have to limit activity during treatment for low back pain, they should not spend the day in bed as part of their care. Patients benefit most when they move about gently and spend a portion of their day being upright and walking.
Another incorrect idea is that kids and teens do not experience back problems. Recent research revealed that for school children between the ages of 10 and 15 years, 31% experienced low back pain in a three-month period. I’ve treated many children and teens with gentle nonpharmacologic, chiropractic care for pain relief of the lower back.
I urge anyone experiencing back pain to be open to ideas and opportunities that exist to help them with their discomfort. Following old and invalid concepts that don’t provide help or solutions are best discarded. Embracing possibilities and remedies that work and have merit are the pathway to success in leading a vital life, free of back pain.
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