Low back pain is one of the most common orthopedic injuries experienced by people in America.
However, there are so many misconceptions and misinformation online and on social media that just creates a lot of unnecessary fear and forces people into procedures they might not necessarily need.
If you begin experiencing low back pain, the world and society we live in today makes you feel like you are being sentenced to a life of discomfort and pain. You begin to get worried that you’ll never be able to participate in your favorite activities again. Or worst case scenario, left wondering if your only option is surgery.
Managing low back pain is specific to each individual experiencing it. It’s all about finding the right formula of movements and lifestyle factors or modifications that work for you. But it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live a life of constant agony.
So here are five common low back pain misconceptions explained.
#1: Low back pain is common, but it is not normal
Our society has normalized something that is not normal but rather a common occurrence.
Over 85% of people will be affected by low back pain in their lifetime. However, while this means that this is a common experience it does not mean it is a normal one.
#2: Most low back pain is non-specific and multidimensional
There’s usually never just one specific reason why someone is experiencing low back pain. Most of the time it is a combination of a few or sometimes even many different factors.
Therefore it’s important to make sure when you are treating low back pain you are addressing the person as a whole.
Things like range of motion, mobility, strength, and joint mobility can all be reasons why someone is experiencing low back pain. Even things like someone’s job, stress levels, nutrition or eating habits and sleep habits can affect how they feel on a day to day basis.
#3: 90% or more of acute low back pain flare ups are non-emergent
You may be in a large amount of discomfort after throwing your back out or twisting the wrong way. But over 90% of acute (meaning sudden onset) back pain cases are non-emergent. This means they will not require surgery.
#4 Its better to get up and move then lay around all day
Our bodies are meant to move and meant to be active. Even when we are in pain. Rest is not the same as rehab.
So instead of choosing to sit still on the couch all day when you’re having a flare up, find ways to modify your movement. Even if it’s the smallest amount of motion.
This is also where consulting a movement professional like a physical therapist can come in handy. Finding ways to move within your tolerance can help to promote blood flow. Bringing new blood to the area can help bring healing factors into the site of pain and flush out toxins.
#5: Degeneration is just a normal part of the aging process
Just like we see signs of aging on the outside of our body, degeneration (or aging) within the spine is just part of our “wrinkles in the inside” as one of my professors used to say.
The presence (or lack of presence) of normal aging processes happening within the spine (things like disc herniations or degenerative disc disease) is not a determination of what your pain level will be or your ability to function.
In fact, 50% of people over the age of 30 will have some signs of aging if you were to take an x-ray in their spine. But 50% of people aged 30 are not walking around with debilitating back pain.
This is because these changes within the spine are a normal part of life. And there are so many other factors outside of an imaging report that dictate how your symptoms will actually play out. Like the ones mentioned in the fourth misconception.
I hope this helped to clear up some common misconceptions you might’ve had regarding low back pain! Still have questions – feel free to fill out this form to hop on a 15 minute call with me.
Having trouble squatting with low back pain? Download this Managing Low Back Pain with Squatting Guide HERE!