Some of us unfortunately, after a few bouts of either acute or chronic back pain, consider ourselves experts. But there is always more to learn. So to educate and dispel some common myths about back pain, see if you can answer some of these questions:
1. True or False? The worse the back pain, the more serious the condition.
False! And we are glad it’s false. Just because you are feeling absolutely overwhelmed with pain does not necessarily mean that your back issues are permanent or even an emergency. Back pain can come on quite strong and be completely debilitating. But a great deal of back pain goes away without significant intervention.
2. True of False: If I exercise regularly, I can avoid back pain forever.
False! While we would love to tell you that exercise (which we highly recommend!) prevents all back injuries, this simply isn’t the case. If you have an underlying back ailment like arthritis or stenosis, exercise can mollify back pain flare-ups, but they cannot prevent them outright. In addition, sometimes exercise can contribute to back pain. Be careful about overdoing abdominal exercises like sit-ups and crunches and always stretch after exercising. And of course, even the most rigorous exercise regimen can’t prevent unexpected accidents that cause back pain.
3. True or False: A good week in bed when my back hurts should cure anything.
False: While short term bedrest (lasting 24 hours) can alleviate some stress on your back, extended bedrest actually can make your back pain worse, believe it or not. Research bears out that returning to your normal routine, combined with other treatment when indicated, is the most effective cure for back pain. Some of these treatment options can include pain relief medication (over the counter or prescription), physical therapy including instruction on exercises to relieve pain and strengthen related muscles, as well as chiropractic and acupuncture treatment.
4. True or False: Since exercise won’t prevent back pain, I can go back to being a couch potato.
Again, false! Regular exercise that comprises cardiovascular conditioning, weight bearing exercise and exercises that strengthen the abdominal panel all contribute to overall back health and can help you recover from episodes of back pain. Carrying extra weight is a direct cause of lower back pain.
So to sum up what we’ve learned: Be physically active, as much as you can, but understand that back pain can still occur. Be sure you consult your health care team if you experience back pain that does not abate.