5 Myths About Back Pain
“Oh, my aching back!” Why does your back hurt today and not yesterday? Did you pick something up that was too heavy without bending your legs? Did you sleep with your neck off the side of the pillow? Or did you just wake up and your back suddenly hurt? If you were to ask these questions to my patients, you would hear all sorts of answers. It’s amazing how many myths about back pain there are. To help you understand exactly why your back might be hurting, here are the 5 most common myths that I discuss with my patients and the answers you need to know.
Myth #1: Back Pain Can Lead to Paralysis
This is certainly a myth, but it does have its roots in logic. Your spinal cord runs from the base of your brain through your neck and upper back, ending at the lower part of your back. While an occasional trauma to one or several of your vertebrae can cause back pain, your lumbar spine has a large area for nerve roots. So while a disc herniation or a compressed disc are not likely to cause paralysis, either can cause a fair amount of lower back pain.
Myth #2: Back Pain Gets Worse With Time
The patients who I currently treat who are in their 20s to 40s often worry that their back pain will get worse as they get older. But will they have chronic back pain when they’re 60 or 70? It’s hard to say if your back pain will get worse over time. So to truly manage it, you should schedule periodic appointments to keep your spine in alignment and prevent any minor injury from becoming a major pain. Stretching exercises and keeping your weight in check can contribute to a healthy back over the coming years.
Myth #3: Back Pain is a Fact of Life
Since up to 80% of Americans will experience back pain during their lives, it may be a fact of life for many people. A spine that’s out of alignment, a pinched nerve, a herniated disc, or spinal subluxation can all cause problems such as sleeplessness, depression, or acute pain. However, you can obtain relief by consulting with a chiropractor trained to relieve pain and to promote healing.
Myth #4: An MRI or X-ray Can Determine the Cause of my Back Pain
A discussion of your medical history, your current symptoms and an in-depth chiropractic exam are typically sufficient to determine why you have back pain. Additionally, if you have x-rays that were taken within the last year, they may be helpful, but x-rays are usually not necessary unless there has been trauma or pathology such as cancer or bone infection is suspected. Additionally, an MRI may confirm suspected disc degeneration or bulges, but many people have disc issues that are not symptomatic. Conversely, many issues that do cause back pain do not show up on an MRI. In most cases, an MRI is scheduled when you are not responding to other therapies.
Myth #5: “Cracking” Your Back Can Relieve Your Pain or Lead to Arthritis
When you wake up and you feel a “kink” in your neck or lower spine, it’s common to want to “crack” your back to relieve the pain or discomfort. This is actually not a helpful exercise. In fact, “cracking” Cracking also feels good, because it releases endorphins, but it generally loosens up the joint above or below the one that is truly stuck and may cause them to become unstable. However, to really solve the problem, have your chiropractor evaluate your neck and back joints, find the specific joint restriction and restore movement with a chiropractic adjustment.
Now that you know the top 5 myths about back pain, are there other reasons that your back is in pain? Let’s talk about those reasons and see if we can come up with some practical solutions to help you.