Most people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Because it’s so common, you may have heard many theories about what causes low back pain and how to fix it. But do you have the right facts? Here are some common myths you may have heard:
Myth #1: This pain is so intense, I should probably head straight to the emergency room.
Evidence shows that most low back pain cases are manageable and do not require an emergency visit. Go to the emergency room if you are experiencing a loss of sensation in the saddle area or you have lost bowel or bladder control. Otherwise, your best first step is to find a musculoskeletal expert such as a chiropractor to diagnose and treat the cause of your low back pain. If the cause of your pain is serious enough to warrant the emergency room, these specialists will immediately send you there.
Myth #2: If I’m in a lot of pain, there must be a lot of damage.
Pain is a sensation that acts as a warning system for your brain. Many things can cause that warning system to go off. A musculoskeletal expert can help you figure out if your pain is related to your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves. It’s important to remember that intense pain doesn’t necessarily mean that there is significant damage.
Myth #3: I just need to stretch my back.
Before you stretch, it’s important to get checked out to see if stretching is the right thing to do. Depending on the reason your back is hurting, certain stretches can make things worse. For example, if you have a disc problem, then you may want to avoid stretches that flex the spine and put additional pressure on the discs. A chiropractor can help you get to the root cause and show you which exercises and stretches will help.
Myth #4: I need an X-ray, CT or MRI to figure out why I have back pain.
The reality is that most causes of acute low back pain will not show up on an X-ray, CT or an MRI. A qualified health care provider is trained to know when you should have diagnostic imaging done, and they have a series of other tests they can do to help you get to the bottom of what is going on.
Myth #5: Now that my back pain is gone, I can stop doing my exercises.
Once the pain stops, many people stop doing the things that helped them get rid of the pain. It is important to make healthy back care and exercise a part of your regular routine. Otherwise your back pain is likely to return.
If you’re experiencing back pain, consult a health care professional to assess your specific needs and identify a course of action that’s right for you. For more common myths about back pain, read Five Things You May Not Know About Back Pain.