Back pain is one of the most common reason for which patients visit a hospital, and we would expect with all the advances in science and medical technology all that is to be sorted out regarding treatment of back pain would have been sorted out by now. But in fact it seems to be going the other way round, the more common the condition is, more is the number of myths that are associated with back pain. As the old dictum goes “little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, general public with hastily gathered knowledge from whats app groups and casual society chats spreads these myths and in turn prevent so many patients from getting appropriate treatment. So today I will try help you the reader get rid of some of these myths.
Myth Number 1 — Back Pain Is Caused by Injury
Fact — Often patients try to correlate their back pain with injuries in recent /distant past, however all back pains are not a result of external injuries. Most common cause of back pain is muscular issues arising from sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercises. Often it is seen that this tendency of patients to correlate back pain with injury has deleterious psychological effects and ends up increasing the functional (psychological) component of pain leading to more prolonged symptoms and decreased satisfaction with treatment.
Myth Number 2 — If No Specific Back Problem Is Found, the Pain Must Be Psychological
Fact — Again trying to find out a specific cause for your pain leads a patient to a wild goose chase. A lot of patients end up being diagnosed and explained about certain findings in their scans which are essentially a variation of normal anatomy as issues which are a cause of their pain. The normal medical model of disease doesn’t apply to back pain and neck pain
Myth number 3 : Back Pain Can Result in Paralysis
Fact — Back pain often results from muscular and degenerative issues such issues usually do not lead to paralysis, however rarely back pains caused by some sinister causes like infection/tumour/fractures can lead to paralysis if left untreated or not treated in a proper way. Thus the most important thing is to get a proper evaluation done and if the sinister causes are ruled out then we can be assured that your back pain wont progress to paralysis.
Myth number 4 – Spine issues are permanent – once a spine patient always a spine patient.
Fact — Most back pains and neck pains usually resolve in less than 4 weeks’ time with a significant proportion of patients reporting improvement within 7-10 days of onset of pains. Only a small proportion of patients develop chronic back pains/neck pains. Even these patients with chronic symptoms respond nicely to a well-designed exercise program. If your symptoms still don’t respond then one may consider pain management options which give excellent results in select group of patients.
Myth Number 5 — Bed Rest Is the Best Cure
Fact — The age old belief that back issues respond only to bed rest is a very flawed view point. Most recent research has shown the detrimental effects that long duration of bed rest can have on your body as a whole and spine in specific.
Recent guidelines suggest that although one may take a short duration bed rest for 2-3 days when the pain is acute and difficult to bear but the patient should be up and about as soon as His / Her pain tolerance allows him.
Myth number 6 — If it pains on Exercising we should stop It.
Fact – Exercises are good for your back. Very often patients come to us in OPDs and respond that the exercises that they did were causing them pain hence they stopped doing the exercises. Even Simple Exercises done under supervision can cause an initial increase in pain one should not worry about that. These increased pains are due to the fact that the muscles have been lying unused and stiff for a long time so the initial effort leads to pain. However once the muscles start getting back into rhythm properly done exercises can work wonders in back pain .
To sum up back pain is a very common problem and it would most definitely affect a person once in a life time. However the fear associated with back pain are unsupported and majority of people with proper treatment and advice can be cured of their back pain in less than a month’s time. the more myths that we continue have about back pain more unlikely it is that our pain will be cured.