Myths surrounding Low Back Pain

Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In Ireland, low back pain accounts for 25% of all GP visits and is the main reason people are absent from work. Although low back pain is common, it is evident that there is confusion surrounding what causes back pain and how best to manage it.

Here are a few back-pain myths and the evidence to combat them, remember – knowledge is power!

Myth 1 – Moving will make back pain worse.

Although some movements will be more uncomfortable than others when you have back pain, it is well established the gentle movement will allow for sooner return to normal activity and is better for recovery.  Gradually increase the amount of activity you do and try to avoid long periods of inactivity – Motion is Lotion


Myth 2 – I should avoid exercise especially weight training.

Exercise is widely accepted to be the best option for treating low back pain in both the acute and the chronic phases.  Stopping exercise can lead to deconditioning and reduced mobility and strength.  Interestingly, no one type of exercise proves to be better or worse, so simply do what you enjoy and you can tolerate. Gradually build up your activity as your confidence and ability improves.  Here at PhysioCare, we are exercise specialists and can design a tailored exercise programme to suit your needs.


Myth 3 – A scan will show me exactly whats wrong.

There is a large and growing body of research which shows that results of scans correlate poorly with symptoms in people with Low Back Pain, and that most people without Low Back Pain have changes on scans and xrays that do not cause any symptoms.  For those reasons and more, imaging alone is not capable of telling us exactly why someone is experiencing pain.  Of course, this does not mean that all MRI scans are irrelevant, but it does not mean that they are not always necessary or helpful.  In fact, there is evidence to suggest that in some cases, having a scan can make situations worse. – The plan not the scan.



Myth 4  – Pain equals damage.

This is one that was always the established view, but recent research has led to greater insight on what causes pain and how best to manage it.  The pain felt is rarely proportional to the amount of injury sustained, for example, a paper cut can be painful, but the level of actual damage in minor.  That is why here, at PhysioCare, we are a more holistic approach to help patients understand why they are in pain.  There may be physical reasons but there may also psychological or even social factors at play, and its important to identify and address those.  We can help you make sense of your pain.


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