Lower back pain is the commonest painful condition effecting modern society. 60% of individuals will experience an episode of lower back pain that will last 3 days or more. Fortunately for the majority it settles down within a few days and most are back to work reasonably quickly. The impact even one severe episode can have may frighten individuals.
With this in mind, allow us to clear up four common myths about neck pain and back pain:
Myth 1: Rest is the best way to treat my pain
Fact: A short period of bed rest may reduce acute neck or back pain, but it is typically advised to limit this period to no more than two days. Any longer and you run the risk of actually increasing your pain.
Additionally, long-term bed rest or extended periods of physical inactivity lead to muscle stiffness and atrophy. This can result in a frustrating cycle, wherein inactivity increases your pain; and increased pain encourages inactivity.
Action: if you suffer an episode of lower back or neck pain that seems to settle quickly heed the warning. For most back and neck conditions, physicians recommend a long-term rehabilitation program that help build the muscle strength in the region. Increasing physical activity such as walking, swimming or yoga are simple and practical things to do. Alternatively get assesses by a chartered physiotherapist to advise on good techniques.
Myth 2: Your spine is fragile and easily injured
Fact: The surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments provide a great deal of strength, flexibility and support for your spine. These are the support structures require to help keep you fit and well.
Action: While there are some exceptions (such as an unstable spinal fractures), keeping your spine healthy requires proper conditioning, including daily stretching and aerobic exercise—even when you have a spinal disorder.
Of course, this doesn't mean that your spine is indestructible. Activities that can harm your spine include both poor posture and body mechanics (e.g. improper lifting technique). Additionally, other lifestyle choices like smoking, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition can negatively affect your spine. In the work place make sure you use equipment that is appropriate and designed around your physical needs.
Attention to good posture, back exercises and regular stretching are all well worth while.
Myth 3: The doctor didn't find anything wrong, so the pain must be all in my head
Fact: Pain is always real. Put another way, your physician may not be able to find the anatomical cause of your pain, but the pain still exists.
Action: As far as chronic pain goes (e.g. pain that lasts more than 3 months), it's important to be proactive. While psychological factors (such as depression) will often need to be addressed as part of a comprehensive treatment program, it is also important to search out non-surgical treatment options to help alleviate the pain.
Myth 4: There is a family history of back or neck condition, so I will suffer as well
Fact: There is no genetic predisposition for most back and neck conditions.
Action: Luckily this means that you are typically not destined to be a victim of the cruel hand of genetics when it comes to back or neck pain. What is often more important is that many poor lifestyle choices can be passed down from generation to generation.
So instead of worrying about genetic predispositions, it is best to focus on being proactive when it comes to protecting your neck and back. One key element of this is to ensure you sit with good posture. This means sitting tall with your shoulders back and your head in a neutral position over your spine. Attention to good diet, avoiding smoking and engaging with exercise that you enjoy is the best way to keep pain at bay.
Dealing with back and/or neck pain is a long-term “vocation”, not a short-term assignment. So you need to educate yourself with correct information to ensure your continued health. You need to ensure you have the right advice at the right time.
Reading this was a good first step, and you can continue to find trusted information throughout our site at Pain Relief Ireland or contact us directly to see if we can help take care of you.