How much do you know about back pain? There are a number of misconceptions about back pain that not only lack truth but actually pose as a hazard to those trying to recover from it. Knowledge is half the battle when it comes to pain; understanding its source and knowing your treatment options allow you to make the best choice for yourself. Falling prey to the myths about back pain will hinder your recovery.
Doctor Andrew Cole, writing for Spine-Health.com, has worked to distinguish fact from fiction in the area of back pain. The following are a few of the myths Cole debunks in the interest of protecting people against bad advice:
“Myth #1: There is a standard “cure” for most causes of back and neck pain.”
This fact should shake any unfaltering loyalty you may have toward one doctor’s opinions. A number of things can cause back pain, and treatment is determined by the cause. There may be a number of treatment options available for a specific problem, and it is up to the you to decide which is best. Only an informed patient can do with confidence.
Another reason to know the facts is to avoid behaviors at home that can exacerbate your pain. The following example illustrates the need for clarification:
Myth #2: Rest is the key to recovery from back pain and back problems.
Cole explains that rest is often effective for treating acute (short-term) pain, but more than 1 or 2 days of rest can cause harm. This is why rest is not the answer for chronic pain.
When the body is inactive for an extended period of time, its muscles weaken, its blood flow decreases and the heart and lungs grow weaker. Muscles need to be strong to support injured areas. The flow of blood should continually supply the area with fresh nutrients while flushing away buildup and inflammation. The heart and lungs, suppliers of fresh blood and oxygen, should be in peak form to assist in the healing process.
This simple confusion over the propriety of bed rest as a treatment could cause someone with chronic pain to sabotage their own recovery.
Knowing the facts will not only help you make good choices for yourself; it will settle many fears you may have concerning your back pain. Cole mentions the fears of inevitable surgery and chronic pain as a sign of progressing damage to the spine.
Surgery is very rarely a treatment option for back pain. The Mayo Clinic estimates that only 5% of those with back pain will receive surgery to treat it.
Sometimes a relatively small amount of damage, such as a slightly herniated disc irritating a nerve, will cause a tremendous amount of pain. Sometimes a severely herniated or degenerated disk will cause no pain at all. For more on the different types of disc damage, see Spine-Health.
“In the belief that high quality education about back pain and a variety of back problems can be an effective adjunct to proper treatment, this article puts to rest a number of the more common misconceptions about back problems…” says Cole of his article. For more myths and facts about back pain, see his full article at Spine Health.