A woman leaning over her desk as she struggles with back pain

5 Common Myths About Back Pain


Written by fitness expert Chris. Last updated:

Back pain comes in many forms. It can be chronic, from a recent injury, due to illness, or from bad posture. Back pain can be referred to from other systems of the body, or it can be related to nerve damage. Regardless of the source, many people are plagued with back pain. Over time, there has been a myriad of treatments, theories, and unfortunately, myths about back pain. Here are five of the most common myths about back pain.

The Only Cure is Surgery

A female doctor checking the strentgh of a mans back

Back pain does not always equate with surgery. While some cases do require surgical intervention, a good number of people with back pain may be able to reduce their symptoms using conservative treatment. There are many treatment options including exercise, stretching, trigger point dry needling, modalities, and injections. It is important to discuss all treatment options with your provider to determine the interventions that will provide you with the best outcomes.

Back pain runs in my family. There is nothing I can do to prevent it

False. While certain hereditary conditions can increase the risks of chronic back pain, there are certainly many steps that may reduce your chance of developing back pain. First of all, maintaining good posture through day to day activities can reduce your risk of developing back pain. Good lifting mechanics, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular exercise are excellent preventative strategies.

I have degenerative disc disease, so there is nothing that can be done for me

There is literature now that indicates that the majority of people over 40 will show signs of degenerative disc disease on an X-ray whether they report back pain or not. Physical therapy and exercise may help reduce symptoms. If you are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, ask your provider if physical therapy could help you.

Having a strong core can lead to less back pain

While this statement is mostly true, it is not only about core strength but also about core stability when it comes to reducing your risk of back injuries. Plenty of high level athletes have complaints of back pain due to a lack of control of their core during activity. When engaging in heavy lifting or activity, being able to maintain a neutral spine requires the core to stay engaged throughout. Plenty of people with six pack abs do not use their core effectively, thus potentially leading to injuries.

Core stability alone is not enough to reduce your risk of back pain. Hip flexibility is another critical aspect of preventing back injuries. When the hips are tight, the back often has to take up the slack. If hip flexibility is poor, motion is made up for at the spine, taking it out of a good neutral position potentially opening the door for injury.

Pain medicine is the only thing that can help back pain

A man taking tablets for his bad back

There are many avenues available that may help reduce back pain other than potentially addictive narcotics. Consult with your provider about using modalities such as a home TENS unit that may help manage your pain. Again, proper posture keeping the spine in a neutral alignment may do wonders to help reduce your pain.

While back pain can be a difficult thing to deal with, it does not necessarily have to be debilitating. Hopefully dispelling these 5 myths about back pain can help put you on your way to a healthier back.

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