If you’re among the 80 percent of adults that have experienced back pain, chances are you’ve received all kinds of advice on how best to take care of yourself and get well. Unlike many other health conditions, back pain equally affects men and women, ranging from a dull ache to sharp, debilitating pain. Understanding what back pain is (and what it isn’t) can be important for people trying to get back on the road to feeling 100%. The following back pain myths make up some of the most commonly misunderstood facts about back pain, and hopefully, they can help you to make better decisions, feel better faster, and even avoid future problems:
Myth #1: My back pain will inevitably worsen as I get older
If you’re concerned that your back pain will ultimately get worse over time, you’re not alone. Many back pain sufferers fear that if their condition arises in their 30s or 40s, that they must resign themselves to feeling terrible for the rest of their lives. Since disc degeneration typically happens slowly over time, taking steps to ensure the health of your spine can help you to prevent back problems later on in life. Staying hydrated, quitting smoking, and working on proper spinal movement and alignment will all help your back to stay healthy in the long run.
Myth #2: A one-time event is the most common cause of back pain
While people certainly can injure their back having a fall or lifting something too heavy improperly, most back pain develops as a result of wear and tear over time. Many times, back pain arises as a result of doing something you’ve done a million times before without consequence – picking up a bag of groceries or bending down to tie your shoe. When something like this happens, it’s likely due to degeneration that has been happening (many times pain-free) over the course of time.
Myth #3: Babying my back will help it to heal and prevent more pain
Being too overprotective of your back can actually backfire and result in an increased risk of injury and pain. Too much bed rest or lack of activity will decondition the spine even further and make you more vulnerable to suffering from chronic pain. In order to stay healthy, your spine needs to be strengthened and taught to move properly. Overall, a lack of exercise or overall sedentary lifestyle will ultimately do more harm than good.
Myth #4: Poor posture and pain have nothing to do with one another
Poor posture and ergonomics absolutely contributes to back pain and might be one of the most common reasons why back pain fails to get better once it’s developed. If most of your day is spent seated for work, slouching with your shoulders rounded and your head poked forward puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your spine and spinal discs. If your job is more active, improper lifting and bending techniques are often to blame for back pain. Setting up your workstation with proper ergonomics and learning lifting techniques that protect your back will benefit you in the long run.
Myth #5: Using a back belt protects by back from injury
Back belts are often used by people who lift a lot throughout the day for work, or by people who have had a previous back injury to give some extra support. The fact is that there is no evidence that shows that the use of a back belt reduces the likelihood of injury. They may actually do more harm by giving a false sense of security (leading to lifting heavier objects than you should), and by encouraging weak muscles to stay weak.
Getting Back Pain Better
There are many potential causes of back pain. The majority of back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a problem with the way the components of the back are able to work together. The spine is a complex combination of bones, discs, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. If one piece of this puzzle doesn’t fit together correctly, it can lead to pain and dysfunction.
Feeling better, in the long run, depends on getting to the source of your pain. Temporary measures to help back pain include medications, typically pain-killers and anti-inflammatories, cortisone shots, and other therapies. While these might give needed relief in the moment, back pain might persist since the root cause was never addressed.
“I’ve Tried Everything and my Back Pain Still Persists”
We hear this all the time and are pleased to report that we take a fresh look at the underlying cause of back pain. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a specialty within the chiropractic profession that seeks to eliminate back pain at its root rather than cover up symptoms. Pain can arise anywhere along the spine when the uppermost vertebrae in the spine, the atlas, misaligns. This area, which sits at the junction between the head and neck, is called the upper cervical spine. It is the most vulnerable to misaligning because it is the most freely movable segment, designed to give our head the freedom to move in all directions.
When the atlas misaligns, it causes a chain reaction of postural compensations. The head will be carried off tilt, so the shoulders and hips are forced to accommodate. Over time, this leads to unequal muscle tension in your back from left to right, increased pressure on spinal joints and discs, and irritation on spinal nerves. By gently realigning the atlas, the body naturally comes back into balance, relieving tension on bones, muscles, and nerves. Upper cervical chiropractic care doesn’t require the forceful popping or torqueing of the spine that is usually associated with a spinal adjustment, increasing both the comfort of our patients as well as our positive results.