Many of you may have experienced back pain in some degree or form at some point in your life. There are countless reasons we think we develop back pain but did you know that many of these “causes” are actually myths?
Today we will debunk some very common and popular myths about back pain.
Should we always be sitting straight? Are firm mattresses necessary? Or is it in your genes? We talk about all these and more. Let’s get started…
Myth Number One: Always Sit Up Straight!
Perhaps the most common myth about back pain. Many attribute back pain to a lousy sitting posture, but the truth is slightly different.
Sitting with a lousy posture or slouching for long periods is terrible for the back. But sitting straight for long periods is not the answer! Sitting up straight in the same posture for an extended period can be equally harmful because lack of movement can strain the back.
Try occasionally walking if you are sitting in the same position for a long time. Or lean back now and then to let your back curve slightly. You can also try standing when you feel your back tensing up, especially if you are reading or using your phone.
Myth Number Two: A Hard Mattress Is The Best!
Another common myth among people experiencing back pain is that their discomfort will go away if they sleep on a tough mattress. Most think this is because it provides back support. However, a firm mattress is not always the best choice for everyone, especially for people with back pain.
Those with back pain require mattresses that are neither too hard nor too soft. A soft bed would not provide the proper support, while a hard one would make it challenging to sleep because of the pressure it would exert on the back.
Myth Number Three: Getting Skinnier Makes You Pain-free
Overweight individuals may experience more frequent back pain than someone thinner, but that does not imply that skinnier people do not get back pain.
The cause of back pain is not because your body is too heavy for you to handle. The reason is usually an underlying issue preventing your back from supporting your body, creating discomfort when performing activities like walking or running.
Bone loss, for example, causes back pain for many people who are too thin. Their skinny nature could come from a condition, such as an eating disorder like anorexia.
Also, disc herniation (or a disc bulge) can occur to anyone at any point in time, regardless of weight, gender, or body composition. Making it a myth that being skinner equates to being pain-free. .
Myth Number Four: Injury Causes Back Pain.
Most people associate back pain with a single event of injury during their lifetime. However, back pain results from damage and wear and tear to your spine over an extended period. In most cases, the cause can be repetitive trauma or unsupported posture.
One-time events sometimes cause back injuries, but it is not always the case, as prolonged stress on the spine due to factors like an unhealthy posture or improper physical labor can result in injury and pain to most sufferers of back pain.
The risk increases if a person has either an unfit body or a preexisting condition like a bulging disk which can sometimes herniate and cause or exacerbate the pain.
Remember to see a chiropractor if you get involved in a major accident or injury to check your back and ensure that there is no damage to your spine.
Myth Number Four: Heavy Lifting
Lifting weights has always gotten a bad rap regarding back pain. Most people often attribute the very act of lifting to cause back pain.
However, most people do not understand or fail to acknowledge that it is not lifting weights but improperly lifting them that causes injury and pain.
Most of us lift weights by bending our backs and using our back muscles to pull up the weight. Doing this can be very detrimental to our back as it puts a lot of strain on our back muscles which can further lead to disc herniation.
The proper way to lift weights is by using our leg muscles, and we should make sure there is no back bending during the endeavor of lifting as it can immediately land us in a tight spot.
Regardless of the position, it is always advisable not to lift weights that are too heavy for you.
Myth Number Five: Bed Rest Is Best
Is bed rest that good for the back? It sounds great after a bad fall or an activity that has strained someone’s back.
Bed rest was one of the first treatment regimes that doctors would ask patients to undergo in the past. Now, however, that advice has changed.
Doctors advise patients not to spend much time in bed and begin doing small activities as their back pain heals. Being immobile in bed is terrible for the back, and it is always advisable to do small activities and keep yourself active for the best results.
Myth Number Six: Genetics Has No Role
We generally never attribute a bad back to the genes we have inherited. But the latest research shows otherwise.
We inherit certain features from our parents, like the color of our eyes, hair, and attributes. The latest research says that inheritance does not stop there. Science says that even specific biochemical, metabolic, and functional changes in the lower back tissue are inherited.
Changes such as the dehydration of discs, growth of osteophytes, and loss of disc height best reflect inherited causes of back pain.
These changes are called osteoarthritis or lumbar degenerative disc disease of the spine, and up to 80% of people suffer from these conditions caused by their inherited genetics.
Myth Number Seven: Surgery Is The Only Option!
Another common myth about the treatment of herniated discs is that it always requires surgery; well, that is not always the case! Herniated discs are problematic, but there is a way to manage this cause of back pain by using conventional therapies.
Proper rest, exercise, and sometimes physiotherapy are needed to fix a herniated disc in most cases. Discs heal themselves in a matter of weeks with proper care.
Surgery is required only in cases where conventional therapy does not seem to work and pain is manageable. In all other cases, surgery is unnecessary and invasive. Sometimes it can lead to more complications instead of properly healing.
Myth Number Eight: Back Pain And Kidney Problems Have No Connection
Sometimes, back pain associated with kidney complications can cause horrible pain that would sometimes even require a visit to the hospital. Kidney stones and kidney infections are two of the most common disorders that can cause severe back pain for many. The symptoms can range from dull aches to sharp pain, and their location depends on the affected kidney.
Another more severe kidney condition that can cause back pain is renal cell carcinoma. Renal cell carcinoma can spread to other parts of the body, and in most cases, the back pain caused goes misdiagnosed. Always exercise caution and check if you feel back pain radiating to your legs which does not go away naturally.
Myth Number Nine: Back Pain Is Always Chronic
Though back problems can be excruciating at their onset, they quickly pass in most cases, and people improve on their own without treatment. However, back pain can return periodically, making it a chronic condition but only in a small percentage of cases. And only in some cases is the pain debilitating.
People generally believe that the first sign of an aching back means back pain for life; this is not true. Suppose your back is sore; rest and see if the pain improves. If not, seek help from a professional.
In most cases, they’ll heal on their own. Most people can resume their favorite pastimes or activities once the pain has passed.
Myth Number Ten: Massages Worsen Back Pain.
Many people see massages as bad for the back, but when done in the right circumstances by the right professionals, it is one of the best treatment methods.
Back pain treatment includes therapeutic massages by licensed and trained professionals. It involves the physical manipulation of the soft tissue of the body to ease muscular pains and body aches.
Massages provide physical and mental relaxation and increase the natural pain threshold of the body by making it release endorphins which is the body’s natural way to fight pain.
Massages are generally considered safe. Depending on the massage type, some individuals might experience pain either during or shortly after the massage is over. But the pain goes away within a few hours.
Back pain is a simple outward symptom that can have a complicated cause.