10 truths of back pain

Back pain is the most common musculoskeletal condition in the world. Its social, physical and economic impact is incredible. In fact somewhere between 8 and 9 people out of every 10 that read this will experience back pain at some point during their life. Back pain can be very painful and you can lose sleep over worrying about it but here are 10 facts about back pain that all of us should be aware of.

  1. Back pain is common It is reported anywhere between 80-93% of people worldwide will experience back pain at some point with it being equally common across all age groups. Back pain is very common and rarely dangerous.
  2. Imaging of back pain is rarely needed and can be extremely harmful to a patients rehabilitation Scans are only needed when a serious condition is suspected (eg. cancer, fracture or infection) or there is serious neurological involvement. Scans will almost always show something, however, research shows that these findings are generally poorly linked with the back pain. Many of these findings are common in people without pain.
  3. The back is not that vulnerable to damage – it is super strong Most people, and practitioners for that matter, think the spine needs to be protected. Scientific research has shown that the back structures do not ‘go out of place’, ‘slip’, or ‘sublux’. This is incorrect and has led to a culture of people fearing their back is vulnerable, to protective guarding, avoidance, and disability.
  4. The back is designed for bending and lifting Just as your knee can get sore after some unaccustomed activity, people can get back pain when they lift something awkwardly or something they aren’t used to. The key to reducing this is practice and getting your body, and back, used to lifting different loads and weights.
  5. You can have back pain without back damage or injury Pain can be turned up by many factors: physical, psychological, health, emotions, lifestyle and social factors. This may mean that you feel pain when you move or try to do something, even though you are not damaging your back.
  6. Rest is not always the answer, and definitely do not rush for surgery There is very strong evidence to suggest that keeping active and returning to all your usual activities gradually is important in aiding recovery. Surgery is rarely the fix for back pain and a non-surgical option, which includes exercises and activity, should always come first.
  7. Exercise is great for back pain Exercise is extremely helpful in rehabilitating back pain and for long term management to prevent back pain. The best kind of exercise if the type you enjoy most. More than 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to have the greatest health benefits but anything is better than nothing.
  8. Strong medications do not have strong benefits for back pain Scientific research has shown that strong medication and painkillers do not provide greater pain relief over simple options. In fact, strong medication has greater potential for harm.
  9. Buyer beware – internet, fads, fashion and a current affair programs A lot of things have not yet been tested in a unbiased randomised-controlled way so you are potentially just wasting your money when you buy into quick fixes. Anyone can endorse a product and anyone can say this magical rainbow coloured bean cured my back pain, but at the end of the day trained clinicians have the best and most up-to-date advice and knowledge.
  10. Back pain can get better Anyone can injure their back, it often doesn’t take a lot to do so but rest assured and be confident that it will get better.

At Phase 4 Performance & Physiotherapy we have highly trained Physiotherapists who have extended knowledge in the treatment and management of back pain. If you have back pain or would like to have a consultation with one of our Physiotherapists please make an appointment online at http://www.phase4performance.com.au or call us on 1300 898 414 and speak to one of our friendly administration team who can direct you to the appropriate clinician.

Simon Carlton | Performance Physiotherapist