You would be hard-pressed to find an injury or condition with as many myths surrounding it as low back pain (LBP). This likely has to do with the fact that LBP is a very common issue that up to 90% of us will deal with at some point in our lives. From work to play, low back pain is frustrating and can greatly impact our day to day lives. Despite this, we do not need to fear it.
We will attempt to “debunk” the common myths surrounding LBP in a 2 part series. Each part will tackle 5 myths and provide the corresponding facts that contradict them.
LBP is usually a serious medical condition.
Despite some potential “red flag” issues that manifest in the low back, the vast majority of LBP episodes (>95%) are not serious.
LBP will become chronic and continue to worsen later in life.
Most incidents of LBP improve (most within 4-6 weeks) and do not worsen as we get older.
Chronic LBP is always related to structural damage.
Although tissue damage may result in LBP, other factors such as a negative mindset, fear-avoidance behaviour, negative recovery expectations and poor pain-coping behaviours are more strongly related.
Diagnostic imaging is always required to determine the cause of LBP.
As mentioned above structural damage does not correlate with LBP. Therefore imaging (x-rays, CT, MRI, etc) is often not required as they do not determine prognosis or improve recovery.
Myth Pain due to exercise or movement is a warning sign that damage is being done to the spine and that you must stop or modify the activity causing the pain.
Fact Gradually progressed exercise and movement (in every direction!) is safe and healthy for the spine.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Sourced from: P O’Sullivan, JP Caneiro, K O’Sullivan, I Lin, S Bunzli, K Wernli, M O’Keefe Back to Basics: 10 Facts Every Person Should Know About Back Pain. BJSM. 2019.