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Challenging back pain myths

Posted by Physiotherapy NZ on 22 November 2013 | 1 Comments Tags: , ,

Did you know over 60% of New Zealander’s think that back pain is caused by something being out of place? Are you one of them?

Our latest nationwide research survey shows that there are a several myths still surrounding the all too common pain in the back!

Take a look at a few of these myths from our free ebook, Taking Care of Your Back and see if you’ve been caught out.  


Taking Care of Your Back Free ebook: Taking Care of Your Back

Want to find out more about these myths and how to treat and prevent back pain?
Download our free ebook filled with physiotherapy advice, tips and how to get better.
Here's your free copy


 

Myth 1: Most back pain is caused by something being out of place

This myth has been well publicised with many people believing their back pain is caused by something being out of place: a joint, a disc protruding, mal-alignment of the pelvis or differing leg lengths that all need to be resolved by manipulation to ‘put it back in place’.

In reality most back pain is caused by strains to the ligaments, tendons and muscles that support the joints in the back. Manipulation often provides pain relief and assists with restoring normal joint movement but it does not ‘pop’ something back into place.

Myth 2: You often need surgery to cure back pain

Very few people require surgery to cure their back pain. In fact with nonspecific low back pain the results of surgery are no better than a physiotherapy rehabilitation programme and there are risks involved with surgery2. Less than half of patients experience good outcomes from surgery, with many still experiencing pain, restrictions in function and the need for painkillers.

Myth 3: Bed rest is often the best remedy for back pain

This myth was part of a general health philosophy that taking to your bed when sick or injured was the treatment of choice. It is now known that for most conditions a more active approach is better. People with back pain are encouraged to remain active and (if off work) return to work as soon as possible. In fact extended periods of bed rest can hinder recovery from low back pain3. Physiotherapy can assist with designing a graduated programme to help you regain your activity level and return to work.

Myth 4: You often need an x-ray or MRI to identify what’s caused your back pain

International guidelines do not recommend the routine use of x-ray or MRI for patients presenting with low back pain1,3. This is because x-rays and MRIs may not provide useful information, and can raise patient concern by identifying changes that are harmless. It is recognised the correlation between degenerative changes identified by x-ray and pain is weak4.

Myth 5: Once you start having back pain, you often have to live with it for the rest of your life

There is always the possibility that back pain can recur. One of the main features of a physiotherapy programme is teaching you how to prevent recurrence and how to cope if you experience any problems.


Taking Care of Your Back Free ebook: Taking Care of Your Back

Want to find out more about these myths and how to treat and prevent back pain?
Download our free ebook filled with physiotherapy advice, tips and how to get better.
Here's your free copy


Want to find a physio to help with your back pain? Easy! Search through our national online database here, and remember you don’t need a GP referral to see a physio. After more information on how a physio can help with your back pain? Try having a look through these back pain resources.

References

1 NICE (2009) Early management of persistent nonspecific low back pain
2
Chou et al (20090 surgery for low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American pain Society Clinical Practice Guide. Spine 34, 10: 1094-2109
3
New Zealand Acute Low Back Pain Guide (2004)
4
Van Tulder MW et al (1976) Spinal radiographic findings and nonspecific low back pain. A systematic review of observational studies. Spine 22,4:427-434

 

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