In this months blog, we explore the myths commonly associated with back pain which may hold people back from recovering quicker.
Myth 1 - I need a scan or an x-ray to diagnose my pain
Most people who suffer from back pain do not need to have an MRI scan as part of their assessment. The majority of back pain complaints are not serious and a scan will not change the way patients are treated. In fact, seeing perfectly normal changes to their spine with investigation can cause people to avoid activities they should be doing to get better, such as exercise and movement in general.
Our physios will carry out a thorough assessment to identify the cause of your issue, including a detailed history. The information gathered will go towards a considered diagnosis and treatment plan.
If after a thorough assessment, the physiotherapist believes you may need further investigation, such as an MRI scan or a review by a consultant, they can help organise this. However, this is usually less than 2% of the cases we see.
Myth 2 - My lower back pain must be a slipped disc
As physiotherapists, we often hear patients talking about a 'slipped disc'. Your discs are really strong tissues that sit between the bones of your spine. Because they are so strong, they simply cannot slip out of place, and neither can any other joints in your spine.
Patients tend to be quite worried that if they have a disc problem it will never get better. But be assured, the clinical evidence tells us that, even if your pain is disc-related, it can and most often does get better.
The spine is a strong, stable structure and not easily damaged so in most instances it is a simple sprain or strain. In these cases the research shows that the majority of people will recover reasonably quickly, and many do so without treatment.
Most causes of back pain are simple strains and sprains of the muscles and joints. Whatever the cause, gentle exercise and physiotherapy can treat the condition.
Myth - 3 Exercise is going to make the pain worse. I need to rest
Research now shows that prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.
In the first few days of a new episode of low back pain, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain.
However, staying as active as possible and returning to all usual activities gradually is actually important in aiding recovery – this includes staying in work where possible.
While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term.
Myth 4 - Pain must equal damage in my spine
Pain doesn’t always indicate damage. Pain is more often a marker that a part of your body is sensitive rather than being damaged. Many physical or psychological factors can cause back pain and often this combination can turn up the volume of your pain
The common belief that pain does equal damage often encourages inactivity, which will actually slow down your recovery. Gentle exercise and physiotherapy are helpful for recovery and, with guidance, are completely safe to perform regularly.
When you are recovering from an episode of back pain, good and bad days are normal, but with support, you can remain confident and keep active.
For advice to help with your back pain, or if you'd like to just chat through the problem with one of our physios, give us a call at 0131 669 3369 or email us at email@example.com.