Living with constant back pain is not easy. Everyday tasks can feel like climbing mountains, and eventually this impacts your ability to go to work, take care of your family, and even get around the house.
Tell others in your life about your condition, though, and you’re bound to get a lot of crazy advice and misplaced skepticism about how serious it really is. Simply put, there’s a lot of bad information out there about back pain and how to deal with it.
To set the record straight, we’ve collected the most common myths and are ready to dispel them with research and science. While every patient and every case is unique, hopefully this information will point you in the right direction toward living a pain-free life.
Dispelling Common Back Pain Myths
Myth: A Misaligned Spine is a “Bad” Spine. Spines are not straight like a pencil; they are curved in multiple places. Misalignment is common, and usually a back can support a certain amount of misalignment. Some people can live a perfectly healthy life with slight misalignments and abnormalities in their spine.
When the misalignment starts to affect the ability for discs to protect the spine or a person to hold themselves upright, however, it needs to be addressed. Misalignment can usually be fixed through spinal adjustments or manipulations.
Myth: If I Stay Active, I Shouldn’t Suffer From Back Pain. This can be a helpful or dangerous attitude to have, depending on how your back pain began. Your definition of the word “active” may also have an affect on how you recover.
Bottom line? Consult with your doctor about your level of activity before your injury or pain as well as your current pain levels.
If, for example, you consistently exercised and played sports before your accident, it may be safe to continue to walk or exercise to keep your muscles engaged. What is not recommended, however, is pushing yourself to the point where your injuries cannot heal. If you did not exercise before pain or injury, you may want to consult an exercise therapist who can get you started on a routine to help you slowly build up muscle and improve range of motion.
Many patients take the opposite approach and want to rest until their back is feeling better. Unfortunately, this is not always the best course of action either. Excessive resting may lead to muscle atrophy or an increased risk of blood clots.
Myth: If I Develop Back Pain When I’m Young, It’s only Going to Get Worse. If your back pain goes untreated, especially after an event like a sports injury or auto accident, this is potentially true. If the spine suffers a large blow that leads to misalignment or pinched nerves, the condition will have to be addressed before it can get better.
However, while many people associate back pain with old age, the actual peak period of time for back pain is between the ages of 35 and 55. After the age of 55, the vertebrae, discs, and other areas of the spinal cord may deteriorate, but this process is not always associated with back pain.
Myth: Spinal Surgery is Necessary for Long-Term Back Pain. Spinal surgery may be offered as a treatment for certain conditions, or to relieve certain symptoms. However, surgery can be intimidating, and rightfully so. Many recent studies show that the stress (and costs) of undergoing surgery may not be worth the trouble.
So surgery is an option, but it is not the only solution in most cases.
Let’s take spinal decompression for example. If your discs are compressed, back pain relief will come from lengthening out the spine and giving your discs more room so they are not putting pressure on your nerves.
Spinal decompression can be done through surgery, but popular non-surgical options are also available. It is very important to explore all of your options before diving into a surgery, taking a medication, or undergoing a treatment.
Myth: Using Painkillers Already Help to Relieve Pain, So I Don’t Need to See a Chiropractor. Many people turn to prescription painkillers or injections (epidurals, nerve blocks, and so on) for temporary pain relief. While these methods often help to lessen symptoms, patients run the risk of becoming dependent on their use for pain. Basically, any type of treatment that doesn’t look at the spine’s alignment and moving parts may not be able to address long-term issues.
If you are looking for holistic and natural ways to relieve symptoms, you may want to see a chiropractor. A chiropractor might recommend massage or other short-term solutions, but other treatments or procedures (spinal manipulations, decompression) will also be available to relieve your need for painkillers or injections.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.