7 common misconceptions about back pain debunked...
An estimated 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain – pain that lasts for more than three months – and back pain is one of the most common.
Experts say that at some point in your life, everyone will likely experience short periods of back pain, and knowing when and how best to treat the symptoms is key when it comes to recovery.
There are several popular misconceptions regarding back pain. But the medical community is working hard to debunk these myths, the most popular of which include:
1) Resting is best for managing back pain – not always so, in fact Andrew G. Kowal, MD, a pain management specialist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass, notes that people often rest in the wrong position and this can lead to further problems. In some case he advises managing back pain through movement by stretching, swimming and walking.
2) Losing weight is best for back pain – of course in many case this can be true, but simply being skinny does not always prevent or treat back pain. There are several other risk factors involved such as age, injury, poor posture, poor sleeping position, smoking, being inactive and stress.
3) Surgery is best for chronic pain – new technology now allows doctors to see inside the body to spot degenerative changes as the happen. This means that in many cases, doctors can manage the condition with physiotherapy and treat the pain with medication. But in some severe cases, surgery is still advised.
4) Call a chiropractors at the first sign of back pain – diagnosing and treating chronic pain quickly can often help recover times, but most times back pain will simply subside in a few days for most people. It’s only when the pain persists should you seek medical attention.
5) People with chronic pain need to take narcotic medications – in most cases anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants are sufficient enough to manage the pain. Kowal actually notes that narcotic can make the situation worse: “Stronger narcotic-type pain medications stimulate more pain receptors to become activated in the brain, making pain seem worse and causing people to take more pain medications. It can become a vicious cycle.”
6) Doctors do not recommend acupuncture – not true. More and more doctors are advising patients to have acupuncture. With a growing amount of study to prove the health benefit of the ancient Chinese healing technique, even the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommend that doctors consider acupuncture as a treatment for chronic back pain.
7) Once a bad back, always a bad back – Kowal explains that good pain management, exercise, maintaining correct posture, controlling weight, and not smoking will all help contribute to keeping back pain at bay.
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- Chris Ilades: 7 Myths About Back Pain. Everyday Health, 2013.