Although back pain is not what comes to mind when most of us think of our health, it is actually one of the most pervasive health problems in almost any society. In the United States, for example, back pain is the leading cause of disability among men aged 45 and over, as well as the second most common reason for GP visits. Despite this, back pain is often ignored and rarely understood. In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the most common back pain myths, and highlight the importance of addressing back pain.
More Pain, More Damage
As with many other health issues, it is often assumed that the more pain there is, the more damage there is. This is the case for acute pain, which is usually sudden and short term. Chronic or long-term pain on the other hand does not correlate with the amount of damage that has been dealt to our bodies. To put it another way, cutting your hand hurts a lot in the moment, but the pain fades relatively quickly. With chronic pain, even a small amount of damage can cause long-lasting pain. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative: it is unfortunate that a small amount of damage can cause so much pain, but you can be reassured by the fact that your body is not severely damaged, and the issue may be easy to resolve, even if it seems as though you are in a lot of pain.
Because back pain is not particularly alarming to us compared to other health problems, many people try to ignore it and simply “power through” the pain. Excuses like “I slept funny” or “This is what happens when you age” are used as a way to ignore the problem, but in reality, powering through the pain is really just failing to address the cause.
The Damage is in the Back
You could be forgiven for thinking that, because your back is sore, the problem is in your back. But in fact, back pain can be brought on by other parts of the body as well. For example, we have previously discussed how back pain can be caused by improper stance or gait. The smallest issue with the way we stand or walk can radiate up to our backs, without causing problems anywhere else along the way. So if you are experiencing back pain, your back is not necessarily to blame.
Alleviating the Pain
A nice massage, bed rest, or the use of a heat pad are often among the first course of action people take when they are experiencing back pain. While these can alleviate pain in the short-term, if you are experiencing chronic back pain, they will not address the root of the problem. In fact, too much bed rest can be detrimental to your back health, as after a few days, your back has gone from resting to becoming stiff. While massages, rest, and heat pads can absolutely help make the road to recovery easier, they need to be used properly, and in conjunction with techniques that address to actual cause of the pain.
Because of the fact that back pain is not a visible issue, people do not treat it with the same severity as they do with more obvious problems. But chronic back pain builds over time, and failing to address is it simply allowing it to progress. If you have been suffering back pain for more than a few days, it is important to investigate the issue before it continues, as the longer you allow it to settle, the longer it will take to get rid of.
- The leading cause of disability in men over 45 years old
- The second most common reason for a visit to a primary care doctor