What You Should Know About Back Pain

Most people have heard terms like disc bulges and a weak core. It’s painful to move while your back is locked, and you’ll do anything to prevent it. The feeling of not moving, on the other hand, is much worse. Without turning to severe procedures, back discomfort can be controlled properly.

Back pain is a typical occurrence.

While back pain can be excruciating and debilitating, it is a regular occurrence that is rarely permanent. Back pain affects 84 percent of people globally at some point in their lives. It affects people of all ages, from children to the elderly, and it does not get worse with age. As a result, it should not be considered a sign of aging or “wear and tear.” The majority of people recover quickly, and many do so without the need for treatment. Some people have recurring episodes of back discomfort, which can be annoying, but they are rarely hazardous.

Medical tests don’t always reveal the reason for the pain.

The majority of people believe that a scan (such as an X-ray or an MRI) will reveal the source of their back discomfort. However, scientific evidence suggests that scans are only required when a serious problem (cancer, fracture/broken bone, infection) is detected. Fortunately, these catastrophic disorders are uncommon, accounting for only around 1% of all back pain worldwide.

The issue with having a scan is that it almost always reveals something, and much of this “something” is unrelated to back discomfort. People who don’t have back pain can still have disc bulges (30 percent of 20-year-olds, rising to 84 percent of those 80 years old), disc degeneration (37 percent of 20-year-olds, rising to 96 percent of 80-year-olds), disc protrusions (29 percent of 20-year-olds, rising to 43 percent of those 80 years old), and facet joint degeneration or arthritis, according to research (4pc of 20-year-olds increasing to 83pc of 80-year-olds).

Scientific evidence now suggests that these are common occurrences that grow with age, are not harmful, and are rarely painful. So think hard about getting a scan, and if you do have one and get a long radiology report with alarming phrases, keep in mind that many of these problems happen to people who aren’t in pain.

The back is not particularly vulnerable to injury.

The majority of individuals believe that the spine is very delicate and has to be protected. This is false, and it has resulted in the dissemination of information and treatments that encourage fear, defensive guarding, avoidance, and impairment. “Your joint/pelvis/disc is slipping/out of place,” for example.

When people are in pain, they tend to move differently, giving the sense that something isn’t quite right. Scientific research, on the other hand, has demonstrated that joints do not slip or ‘get out of place.’ Some health practitioners claim that treatments like manipulation are helping patients re-establish their structures. While many people will experience short-term relief as a result of these treatments, any benefit is attributable to changes in the neurological system and muscular relaxation, not to disc and joint realignment.

While core-strengthening exercises (planks, sit-ups, Pilates) have become increasingly popular, they are not more effective than other types of exercise for back discomfort (for example, walking). Many persons with back problems, according to a study, overwork their core muscles. This is similar to clenching a fist with a hurting wrist, which can actually increase the strain on the back.

Maybe you’ve been told you have a ‘weak core’ or ‘your back/pelvis is unstable,’ but keep in mind that although many of these theories are unsupported by science, and yet they instill unwarranted panic and hinder back pain exercise treatment. It is much better to move in a relaxed, confident manner.

There’s no proof that there is one perfect posture for every person, contrary to common assumptions. While slouching is frequently blamed for back discomfort, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. Many persons who suffer from back discomfort maintain inflexible upright postures and are unable to relax. When someone tells you that slouching causes back pain, take a glance around and see how many people without back trouble that sit in a variety of relaxed postures, as opposed to how many people with back pain sit in very rigid, uncomfortable-looking, but perfectly straight positions.

Inactivity causes discomfort; thus, it’s critical to take breaks from sitting.

Bending and lifting are not usually harmful to the back.

The back, like other body components (such as the knee), is intended to move and adapt to a variety of activities. Lifting conditioning is essential, as is learning how to lift large objects correctly and safely. The back is made to move and adapt to a wide range of activities. People can acquire back discomfort when they lift something awkwardly or something they aren’t used to, much like they can get a painful knee after doing an unfamiliar sport.

People will lift in different ways that are more comfortable and efficient for them, just as they will run in different ways. It is essential to allow your body to adjust to varying loads and weights. A coach or trainer could be beneficial.

Back discomfort can occur even if there is no damage or injury to the back.

Pain is thought to be a symptom of injury or damage in the classic sense. While some back pain is linked to a sudden, recurring, or heavy-loading incident, we also know that many other factors can turn up the volume of back pain. Physical movements, psychological fear or stress, health issues, lifestyle, and social factors are among them.

This implies that even if you are not injuring your back, you may experience more discomfort when you move or try to do something. Have you ever had a headache when you’re upset, depressed, fatigued, or exhausted? Back discomfort is no exception. Many people experience back discomfort as a result of a tiny mechanical trigger, such as picking something up off the ground or rolling over. The spinal structures have become sensitized as a result of various variables such as sleeping position or stress in this case.

Importantly, all back discomfort is 100 percent genuine. It is unique to each individual and is not ‘all in one’s head’ or fictitious, even if stress, mood, or lack of sleep are contributing factors. Being aware of all the variables can help you have a better knowledge of your pain and what has to be done to turn down the volume on back pain.

Don’t ignore back pain, but don’t rush into surgery.

When people experience back pain, they frequently believe they have caused it, so they go to bed and relax until the pain subsides. However, there is significant evidence that staying active and gradually returning to all normal activities, including jobs and hobbies, can help with rehabilitation. While rest may provide temporary relief, it is not beneficial in the long run, as it is linked to increased pain, disability, and time away from work.

Back surgery is a last resort for those suffering from back discomfort. There are a few uncommon back diseases that cause strain on the nerves that feed the leg, causing discomfort, pins, and needles, or numbness in the legs. Surgery can assist with leg issues in certain cases, but it’s important to remember that surgery isn’t always necessary.

Unfortunately, many people are rushed into surgeries like lumbar fusions, which are highly costly. You should also be aware that, on average, back surgery does not produce superior outcomes in the medium and long term than non-surgical therapies such as exercise. As a result, a non-surgical approach that includes activity/exercise should always take precedence.

Exercise is beneficial for back pain, yet many individuals are scared to do it.

Exercise, contrary to popular thought, is beneficial for back pain, and the best sort is the one you enjoy. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, and Pilates, for example, all offer similar back-pain-relieving effects.

Strong medications do not provide much relief from back pain.

Many individuals believe that severe pain necessitates the use of a strong painkiller. This isn’t correct. If you’re experiencing back pain for the first time, start with an over-the-counter pain reliever before turning to prescription drugs. Strong medicines, such as those containing an opioid, have been found in scientific studies to not give better pain relief and, in fact, have a higher risk of injury. Dependence, overdose, falls, fractures, depression, and sexual dysfunction are all risks connected with opioids. If you do decide to take a painkiller, start with a low dose and work up a schedule with your doctor for when you’ll need to evaluate or cease using it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are given scary information regarding exercising. People are frequently advised to avoid running on the road, swimming the breaststroke, and sticking to low-impact sports such as strolling. No scientific evidence suggests that any of these activities are harmful to your back or cause joint wear and tear. These activities, like a sprained ankle, may be painful at first, but they are not harmful to your back. It’s more crucial to do them in a comfortable manner (moving normally, not bracing, and not holding your breath) and to proceed slowly.

It’s becoming more clear that the amount of exercise you do matters more than the sort of exercise you perform. Most health benefits come from exercising for more than 30 minutes every day, but any amount you can handle will help. Studies reveal that regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of acquiring back discomfort.

Most importantly, you should engage in an activity that you enjoy, is inexpensive, and accessible.

Stiffness and soreness after exercise do not signal that your body has been damaged; rather, it indicates that your body has not yet adapted to the activity. You might begin with a low-intensity activity and gradually raise your intensity.

Don’t buy into fads.

Commercial sites that sell a product should be avoided. In the media and on the internet, we hear everyday claims of miracle cures and the greatest therapies for back pain. Electrical gadgets, magnets, needles, fancy exercise machines, colorful tapes, cupping therapy, herbal supplements, fancy shoes/insoles, stem cell injections, and a variety of additional potions and lotions are just a few examples. Many of these items have yet to be tested, so you may be wasting your money, and when they have been tested, the results are disappointing.

Back discomfort is treatable.

We need to rethink the way we think about back pain. Thinking about the spine is skewed and tinged with fear. Of course, you can injure your back, but rest assured that most of the time it will heal. People are frequently told that they cannot change their pain and must learn to live with it. This is not supported by the evidence. The back can also be rehabilitated.

Consider it a sprain of the ankle. It’s excruciatingly uncomfortable at first, but with gradual activation, it becomes better. Avoiding movement won’t help you recover from an ankle sprain, and it won’t help you recover from a back injury or pain. Your pain is personal to you, and it can be influenced by a variety of variables. As a result, all of these elements must be considered when dealing with your back discomfort. This could explain why so many pain therapies fail in the long run since they just address one aspect of the problem.

Setting personal goals, addressing pertinent issues (lifestyle, health), and engaging in activities you love, such as exercise, relaxation, and socializing with friends and family, are all critical for rehabilitation and progress. Do not be alarmed if a flare-up occurs. It’s time to make a shift in the way back pain is treated.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: Is Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy an Effective Treatment Option?

If you are in the Asheville, NC area and in need of physical therapy, we’d love to connect with you.

CONTACT us here at 1on1 Physical Therapy! 828-785-8388

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