Approximately 80% of adults will have at least one episode of back pain during their lifetime. That's a lot of people! The sad part is that a large number of these people will end up having chronic problems that could have been easily avoided, had they known what to do about it sooner. Most people will make the obvious choice and see their doctor first. If the advice or direction given doesn't fix the problem, they are likely to fall victim to fear or confusion about what to do next. This is a painful path to years of unnecessary discomfort, stiffness and lost time. With so many treatment options available such as surgery, injections, pills and physical therapy to name a few, it's easy to understand how making the RIGHT decision can seem almost impossible. Stay keen to these 3 myths to avoid unnecessary, prolonged back pain and stiffness.
1. Low back pain is normal
Don't mistake commonplace for normalcy. Maybe back pain runs in your family or your best friend gets it from time to time. Let's clear up any confusion about this now...pain is not normal. Pain is a signal received by your brain telling you that something went wrong. It is important to listen to this message that your body is sending. While low back pain is very common and affects 15-20% of adults every year, it is NOT normal.
2. It will go away on its own
Wishful thinking. For the lucky few, this may be true. However, just because the initial pain has diminished or cleared up, that doesn't mean you are out of harm's way. When left untreated or unresolved, don't be surprised when you experience episodes of low back pain. These episodes will no doubt increase in frequency and intensity as the underlying problem continues to be ignored.
3. It's "degenerative" so nothing can be done
Not quite. Degenerative changes come with age and can be present in people with or without any symptoms of low back pain. Treatment options for this type of condition DO exist - one of the safest and most effective being physical therapy. Here is some information you may find interesting about physical therapy treatment for low back pain.
In a study by Fritz and Childs, patients that received early physical therapy treatment for low back pain had a decreased likelihood of having advanced imaging taken (i.e. MRI), additional physician visits, surgery, injections and opioid use, which leads to a much lower overall cost. In fact, early physical therapy has been shown to decrease low back pain related costs by 60%!
Sadly, research has shown only 7% of the people who visit their primary care physician for back pain received a referral for physical therapy. An overwhelming 49% of these patients were prescribed pain medication. The moral of this story is - even if your MD does not specifically recommend physical therapy, make sure to call your local physical therapist at the first sign of back pain...it's in your best interest!
If you are currently having back pain, call us today to find out if physical therapy is the right option for you. We will be happy to answer any of your questions and help relieve you of this pain for good.
1. Rubin Di. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain.Neurol Clin. 2007;25(2):35-71.
2. Fritz JM, Childs JD, Wainner RS, Flynn TW. Primary care referral of patients with low back pain to physical therapy: impact on future health care utilization and costs. Spine. 2012;37(25):2114-2121.
3. Childs JD, Fritz JM, Wu SS, Flynn TW, Wainner RS, Robertson EK, et al. Implications of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs. BMC Health Serv. Res. 2015;15:150.