Back Pain Myths Busted

It is estimated that about 3 million Australians (13. 6% of the population) suffer from back pain. It is so common that 70-90% of people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there are many misguided beliefs that are commonplace and often frustrate patients during treatment.  Here are three myths about back pain and the truths behind them.

Myth 1. The best thing for a sore back is bed rest.

Although short-term rest is shown to be beneficial during the acute stage of back pain, several studies show that this should not exceed more than 48 hours. Resting for more than 48 hours increases muscular wasting and deconditioning which prolongs recovery. In fact, the longer you stay in bed, the worse your pain becomes and the more likely you are to reinjure your back. The best treatment is a gradual return to light activities including gentle exercise, stretching, work and hobbies. An exercise physiologist can best supervise this return to activity with an individualised strengthening and stretching routine. Back pain isn’t forever but the appropriate exercise routine should become part of your lifestyle to prevent future episodes of back pain.

Myth 2. Herniated discs are forever and need to be surgically repaired.

Most disc herniations can be treated conservatively. About 80% will resolve in 6 weeks and 90% in 3 months with appropriate treatment. The majority of people will get better with physical therapy and gentle exercise alone and will usually never require surgery. In some cases, prolonged weakness of the lower limbs, numbness, inability to control the bladder or bowel and severe pain radiating into the lower limbs may indicate a more serious injury that may require more investigation.

Myth 3. Exercise can hurt your back.

On the contrary, under the guidance of an accredited exercise physiologist, exercise can help your back by strengthening and retraining the muscles that support your spine. The number one risk factor for lower back pain is having had a previous episode of back pain in the past. Subsequently, a strong, well-conditioned back is more stable and can better withstand stress to prevent your back from being reinjured. So if you have had back pain in the past, speak to the friendly staff at Optimum Health Solutions and we will put together an individualised management plan to help you live life to the fullest.

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