Useful Facts and Common Myths About Lower Back Pain

lower back pain

Chronic low back pain facts

Chronic low back pain affects tens of thousands of people around the globe every single day. Back pain is one of the most common conditions in pain medicine. Symptoms of back pain can come from many structures, which include:

  • bony vertebrae;
  • intervertebral discs;
  • small joints in the back, which are called the facet joints;
  • spinal cord;
  • nerve roots;
  • ligaments;
  • tendons;
  • muscles.

Disorders elsewhere, like the abdomen, can also cause back pain. This is called referred pain.

One common cause of low back pain is lumbar spinal stenosis. People can be born with spinal narrowing or stenosis or they can develop it with time. If one has a bulging disc, it can push into the spinal canal and narrow inside this area – that is the stenosis. Or if they have bony growth from arthritis. It can also enlarge this space and push into that canal area as well.

There is a difference between central stenosis (narrowing in the inside) and neuro foraminal stenosis (narrowing where the nerves come out).

Herniated disc is another common cause of low back pain. As the disc between the vertebrae come back or herniate out, they can also rupture and extrude, causing disc material to come out and directly impinge upon a nerve or impinge on the spinal cord.

Protruding discs can cause severe pain. Often times this pain is called radicular pain and shoots down the leg like sciatica. Weakness can also occur.

Some back pain can be prevented. To prevent and lessen back pain good posture keeps the back strong and improper alignment.

When lifting an object, bend at the knees and keep the back straight and protect your lumbar vertebrae. When you workout, core exercises strengthen the back muscles around the spine, which also protect the spine and maintain mobility.

If you or your loved ones suffer from chronic low back pain and can't find relief with everyday remedies, address to your health care provider.

Back Pain Myths

Almost every human being suffers from back pain at least once in their lives. According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain comes second in the most common neurological disorder in the United States; a headache being at number one. It is of utmost importance that back pain is not left alone to be healed, but essential steps should be taken to cure it, as it can lead to more severe problems otherwise. Our back is divided into 3 parts – upper, middle and lower. The back pain can take place in any of these three parts, but is most common is the lower back pain.

There are various misconceptions related to the causes of back pain. These are:

Myth 1- Back pain is hereditary. If your mother or father has it, you are likely to have the pain as well.

Fact – Back problems are not hereditary. If it has been in the family, it is not necessary that you will also have it.

Myth 2 – Spine is very delicate and can get injured easily.

Fact – Human spine is protected with three layers of tissue called spinal meninges, which surround the cord. It is a well designed strong and flexible structure. There are various exercises that can be done to make the back strong.

Myth 3 – When the back hurts, rest is the only way to recover from the pain.

Fact – Rest is important in a case of severe back pain as it helps reduce the pressure on the spine disc, but the rest should not be for more than 2-3 days. Taking a bed rest for more days may lead to various other ailments, including an increase in the pain.

Myth 4- No exercise should be done when a person has pain in the back.

Fact – There are various exercises and yoga which helps in making the back stronger and reducing the pain, as exercising/yoga increases the fluid circulation and improves the condition of the back.

Myth 5 – Back surgery is the only answer to long-term back pain.

Fact – It is important to cure the back pain at an early stage because if it becomes chronic, the chances of a successful surgery reduce.

Myth 6 – Only MRI or other diagnostic tests are essential to detect the exact problem in the back.

Fact – The back problem is mostly analyzed by a thorough checkup or physical examination of the patient by the doctor. Only in some cases, the diagnostic tests are essential to know the problem deeper or if a patient does not respond to the physical examination.

Myth 7 – Back surgery causes disability.

Fact – It is not a correct statement, as a person can do the everyday work without any problem after recovering from the surgery. However, there are restrictions like not lifting heavy weights or anything that will cause excessive strain on the back.