Low back pain is a common condition that most people will experience at some point in their lives. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about its causes and treatments. Here we will examine some common low back pain myths and the real facts behind them.
If you have a slipped disk (also known as a herniated or ruptured disk) you must have surgery. Surgeons agree about exactly who should have surgery.
90% of all herniated discs heal without surgery. Surgeons often disagree about who should have surgery.
X-ray and newer imaging tests (CT and MRI scans) can always identify the cause of pain.
For 85% of people with back pain, doctors are unable to determine a precise cause of the pain, even with scans and/or x-rays.
If your back hurts, you should take it easy until the pain goes away.
People who stay active after a back injury (even in the face of discomfort) do significantly better than those who stop all activity.
Back pain is usually disabling.
Although the pain can sometimes be severe, it is rarely disabling.
Most back pain is caused by injuries or heavy lifting.
Over half of the people with back pain develop it gradually without a specific injury.
Everyone with back pain should have a spine x-ray.
X-rays rarely help a doctor treat a patient with back pain more effectively. In fact, only one time in 2,500 will an x-ray change a doctor's treatment decision. Further, undue exposure to x-rays can be harmful.
Bed rest is the mainstay of therapy.
Bed rest causes rapid deconditioning which can make a person more susceptible to developing a chronic problem. Scientific research demonstrates that those who remain at least somewhat active after an injury do better than those who rest in bed.
Source: Deyo, Richard. Low back pain. Scientific America, August, 1998