Low back pain is one of the most debilitating and common conditions that Canadians experience.  In fact, up to 85% of working people can expect to experience low back pain in their lifetime!  Many individuals with lower back pain do not manage it well because of poor advice or misinformation.  There are several unhealthy myths about lower back pain and what you should do about it.  Let’s set the record straight!

1.    “Moving will make my back pain worse”

Many individuals adopt a robotic like pattern of movement when they are experiencing back pain – namely, they are trying to avoid bending or twisting.  Yes, there are certain situations that warrant a temporary avoidance of these movements or positions but then the gradual resumption is important. Muscles that are in spasm will relax when you move gently.  Increase your movement as tolerated and stay on the move!

2.    “I should avoid exercising when I have back pain”

Back pain should not prevent you from enjoying exercise or your regular activities. In fact, studies have found that continuing with light aerobic and even weight training exercises can help you get better sooner!

3.    “Diagnostic imaging will show me exactly what is wrong with my back”

There is actually very poor correlation between the findings on a scan and pain or disability.  The imaging of most adults will show normal signs of age-related adaptations or changes in the spine – named “degenerative disc disease!”  Diagnostic imaging like MRI’s and CT scans are warranted to rule out serious pathology but these instances are rare – less than 1%!

4.    “Pain equals damage”

The amount of pain an individual is in actually has very little relationship to damage in the spine. Consciously and unconsciously, we can influence our pain with our thoughts and emotions. Cultural influences, work, stress, past experience and duration of symptoms have a stronger relationship with pain than the amount of age-related changes you have on your scan.

5.    “I will have back pain for the rest of my life”

Even if you have been suffering with low back pain for many years, it does not mean this pain will persist for the rest of your life.  Chronic pain is a complicated phenomenon and often related to psychosocial factors.  It is never too late to take control of your health and make positive changes to your lifestyle to promote improved quality of life.   Physiotherapy can be a great starting point to get your pain under control and provide you with tools to live your best life!

If you have any questions about these myths or want to speak to a physiotherapist about your back, feel free to contact us and set up an appointment!