• Dylan Marks

Myths vs. Facts of Chronic Low Back Pain

Updated: May 8

Chronic low back pain and non-specific low back pain is one of the most common medical complaints facing our society today. In the US alone, the estimated cost for treatment of low back pain in 2019 exceeded 100 billion dollars. Low back pain is the #1 reason for the prescription of opioids. In today's society, misinformation is abundant regarding low back pain. We have all heard, "you are out of alignment", "your core is weak", "you have too much wear and tear", "your posture is awful" and various other misnomers. These unhelpful beliefs are widespread and reinforce bad habits and poor management strategies. These false beliefs have been proven to lead to greater levels of pain, greater levels of disability and increased opioid utilization.


The good news is, low back pain is not as scary as we are conditioned to think. Here at Columbia PT In Motion, we want to direct you towards a recent article by Peter O'Sullivan et al 2019 (one of the foremost researchers in the world on low back pain) and what he describes as the 10 facts about low back pain we should all know.


FACTS

  1. Although scary, low back pain is rarely dangerous or life-threatening

  2. Getting older IS NOT a cause of back pain

  3. Persistent back pain is rarely associated with serious tissue damage - we are finding that flares in pain are more related to stress, fatigue, tension, inactivity, or an unaccustomed activity

  4. Imaging/Scans rarely show the cause of back pain - reports fail to mention that many of these scary-sounding words (bulges, prolapses, herniations, degeneration, etc.) are commonly found in people without back pain and DO NOT predict how much pain you feel

  5. Pain with exercise or movement DOES NOT mean you are harming your back

  6. Back pain IS NOT solely caused by poor posture

  7. Back pain IS NOT solely caused by a weak core

  8. Backs DO NOT wear out with time - backs are inherently strong and these everyday movements (bending, lifting, twisting) make the back muscles stronger not weaker

  9. Pain DOES NOT mean damage

  10. Injections, surgery and strong drugs usually are not the cure - MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE


Our providers can assist you or a loved one in their recovery from low back pain. Mismanagement of low back pain early in the process can contribute to back pain lasting and becoming chronic. Schedule with the movement experts and allow us to guide you in your recovery and ensure you get back to your old self - if not better! Don't fall prey to the "myths of low back pain" and stick to the facts!


Osullivan, P. B., Caneiro, J., Osullivan, K., Lin, I., Bunzli, S., Wernli, K., & Okeeffe, M. (2019). Back to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back pain. British Journal of Sports Medicine. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101611

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