Back Pain Myth Busters - Exploding the Myths.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have recently started busting myths about back pain and trying to reinforce what the latest evidence says is best for your back. They have done this because myths create fear which causes people to stop doing many of the useful activities needed to do to improve symptoms. A team of physio's from the Physio Matters podcast team (Rob Tyr, Jack March and Mark Reid) have collated the evidence, and I thought I would share it with you here.
Myth 1 - Moving will make my back pain worse
Many people would agree with this statement, and it's true that one's initial instinct is that of protection, however it is now well established that returning to movement and also to work as soon as you are able, is much better for both recovery and preventing recurrence than bed rest -
Myth 2 - I should avoid exercise, especially weight training.
This is most definitely a myth and the evidence demonstrates that exercise is the best modality for treating low back pain in both the acute and chronic phases. What type of exercise you do doesn;t actually seem to matter, and that includes high load resistance training. So, simply do what you enjoy and can tolerate, and gradually build up.
Myth 3 - A scan will tell me exactly what's wrong.
There is now a large and increasing amount of research demonstrating that results of scans correlate poorly with symptoms in people with Low Back Pain. In fact, if we were able to scan a cross section of society, who didn't have pain, the majority of them would have changes in their scans and x-rays, demonstrating that in many cases the scan findings do not equate to symptoms i.e. you can have pain but a normal scan and vice versa. This is because the scans do not assess the brain and nervous system, which are the structures we believe generate the pain.
Of course this does not meant that MRI scans are irrelevant in all cases, but that they may not be necessary or helpful. Particularly given the evidence suggesting that in some cases scans can worsen the situation.
Myth 4 - Pain equals damage.
As the podcast team put it 'The level of pain experienced is very rarely proportional to the amount injury sustained to the back. Pain is far more complex than this, as pain levels are a reflection of how threatened each human perceives itself to be.
For example, past experiences, general health factors, beliefs, sleep and exercise levels as well as psychological wellbeing, all play important parts in how much pain each individual might experience.'