Myths and facts about back Pain in general population

There are many misconception (myths) regarding low back pain among the general population. Low level of education among the population is considered as an important factor for the prevalence of these myths. Not surprisingly myths about low back pain and its management also are  highly prevalent in our country. These myths are obstacles in getting proper  management of the low back pain. Understanding and accepting the facts will not only help in the proper management of low back pain but also reducing the duration of misery.

1. Myth – complete bed rest, restriction of movements and lying down on a hard surface is helpful and is indicated until patient is fully recovered from the pain.

Fact –Prolong bed rest and restriction of movement is not indicated.

Prolong bed rest may cause disuse atrophy and thus may actually be harmful. Bed rest is indicated for short duration (1-2 days) and patients are advised to stay active. Even according to some guidelines bed rest is contraindicated.

2. Myth – Lumbosacral belt or brace helps in reducing the pain

Fact – Use of braces may lead to lumbar muscle deconditioning and weakness of paraspinal muscles. Paraspinal muscles are the important muscles supporting the spine and wasting of these muscles can do more harm than benefit.

3. Myth- Spondylosis is the most common cause of the low back pain.

Fact- spondylosis is not a clinical but X-ray terminology and it merely indicates degenerative changes in any part of the spine.The most common cause of back pain in elderly age group is facet joint arthropathy while the common cause of low back pain in middle or younger age group is internal disc disruption.

4. Myth– Pain Killers Lead to Addiction

Fact: When taken as directed, prescription pain medications rarely cause addiction. However, as with many medicines, your body can become physically dependent on pain medication. Although this doesn’t mean you’re addicted, you may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop the medicine abruptly. It’s an expected response when a prescription pain medicine is used for more than a few days. Your doctor can help you stop safely.

5. Myth –Surgery in indicated whenever there is disc bulge or prolapsed /any other abnormality in the MRI of patient with back pain.

Fact-surgery is indicated only in the presence of neurological deficits or other serious disorders like tumors, fractures, infections (RED flags).