By Loni Rodriguez DPT
Low back pain is an extremely common condition that many people are faced with on a daily basis and the incidence is climbing. From 1996 to 2006, the number of people who experienced low back pain increased from 3.9% to 10.2%. Recent research has also shown that up to 33% of individuals who have experienced low back pain experience it again within one year.
How can this be?
There have been significant advancements in medical technology including improved surgical procedures, imaging techniques, and medications. With these advancements, however, the incidence of low back pain continues to increase.
What are we doing wrong?!
One main underlying issue is the misconceptions surrounding the topic of low back pain. These misconceptions can lead to poor treatment outcomes, fear of movement, incorrect diagnoses, and worsening symptoms. The discussion today will help debunk some of these misconceptions and will better educate YOU on this low back pain epidemic.
Misconception #1: My back hurts, I should rest.
I don’t recommend anyone take complete rest from their activity. In every case of low back pain, there are specific activity modification recommendations that can be made. I will never tell someone to completely rest!
These modifications are specific to each person – it is recommended that you seek medical advice to find out what the right path is when you are dealing with pain.
Not convinced? Let’s hear Roy’s Story
Misconception #2: I should not lift weights because it is bad for my back.
One of the most effective ways to treat low back pain is strength training. Strength training creates full body resiliency. The most beneficial weight training exercises involved in low back pain rehabilitation programming include squatting, deadlifting, carrying, pressing, and pulling. All of these exercises help strengthen the muscles throughout the entire body including the lower back, which help to decrease pain and improve activity tolerance. Just like the previous recommendation, if you have low back pain do not think that jumping into these exercises without supervision is a good idea. Seek advice from a trusted professional!
Misconception #3: My back pain is from the chair I sit in at work.
Most of the time, back pain and the type of chair you sit in do not correlate. In some cases, the amount of time sitting and the lack of time spent up and moving are bigger contributors to symptoms. As stated before, movement is medicine, especially in the case of low back pain – when in doubt, just get up and move as frequently as you can.
Misconception #4: My back is stiff, I probably should be stretching more.
A stiff back does not always mean that it has to be stretched. A lot to times, stiffness is a perception of being tight and it is your body’s way of telling you that it needs some attention. Low back stiffness can be helped with frequent, active movement, versus stationary, passive stretching. This type of stretching does serve a purpose, but is not the most effective way of helping your stiff back. Here is a quick video to a great routine that you can perform on your own to “loosen” your lower back!
Misconception #5: I know where my pain is coming from, I have a disc herniation.
Disc herniations are not proven to be the cause of back pain. In most cases, disc herniations are not causing the symptoms. Especially when the pain has been going on for a while. This condition can be considered part of the normal aging process! The percentage of people with disc herniations increases with age and most of the people with herniations do not have pain! Please quit blaming your pain on a condition that can be considered the gray hair of the spine.
If you would like more information on back pain, or any pain for that matter, please visit www.infinitepotentialptw.com. On this website there is a plethora of free information and content, as well as a forum to ask questions.
Delitto et al. “Clinical Practice Guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the orthopedic section of the American Physical Therapy Association”. J Orthop Phys Ther. 2012;42(4):A1-A57