Eight in every ten people will suffer with lower back pain at some point in their lives.  That’s a fact.   However there are so many common myths about the condition that affects all these people.  This week we look to dispel some of these common misconceptions with regard to three common myths about lower back pain.

  1. Patients often feel that a scan, either an X-ray or MRI, is necessary to explain the cause of their lower back pain.  The fact is that, in the vast majority of cases, scans that are ordered will be inconclusive, and show no identifiable cause for the symptoms that patient’s experience.  Effectively these are wasted tests.  In a small minority of cases scans and x-ray’s are necessary, however these should only be ordered after thorough examination by your doctor or chartered physiotherapist has lead these professionals to suspect that a scan may confirm something that they’ve already picked up on during their examination.  The vast majority of simple back pain lasting less than six weeks with symptoms confined to the lower back and buttock do not require scanning.
  1. Patients also believe that bed rest is necessary to help your back pain recover.  Professionals such as doctors and physiotherapists perhaps contributed to this misconception as bed rest was often prescribed in the past to patients complaining of lower back pain.  However, with new research in the area of lower back pain, this approach to the management of lower back pain has become redundant.  We now know for a fact that exercise will help your back to recover.  Bed rest on the contrary will prolong your symptoms and will not assist with your recovery.  Particularly, bed rest extending beyond a couple of days should be avoided.
  1. The third common myth about lower back pain is that exercise is bad for your back.  On the contrary, exercise and active rehabilitation is now the mainstay of successful rehabilitation of a lower back problem.  Very often flare ups of lower back pain coincide with periods of relative inactivity in previously active people.  Gentle aerobic exercise such as walking and swimming are often the key to maintaining good back health.  More specific exercises for the rehabilitation of your specific lower back problem can be prescribed by your chartered physiotherapist.