5 Common Myths of Back Pain

5 Common Myths of Back Pain

Jenny wrote this on article for the42.ie for World Spine Day on the common misconceptions of back pain.

It was published on 23/10/2015. The article is reproduced below but can be read on the42.ie on at the following link – Full article

5 of the most common myths about back pain debunked

You don’t necessarily need to lie on the couch all day or require surgery to cure the problem.


WORLD SPINE DAY might have passed most of us by over the weekend but when one considers that 80% of us will experience back pain at some stage in our lives, it’s something we should probably pay more attention to.

Chartered Physiotherapist Jenny Branigan deals with low back pain (LBP) sufferers every day and says that a person’s beliefs and attitudes towards pain will influence their prognosis.

She also explains how people with the worst back pain beliefs and greatest fear about physical activity become the most disabled.

Here are five other common myths she has debunked for us.

Myth No 1: I hurt my back, so I will have a bad back from now on

  • LBP is painful initially but most people recover fully.
  • Most people return to full, previous activity levels.
  • Only a very small number develop long-standing, disabling problems.
  • Early identification gives rise to a better prognosis.
  • It is important that we identify the small number of people at higher risk of developing longer term problems, so get it checked promptly!

Myth No 2: I have back pain, so I should stay in bed and rest

  • You should certainly avoid aggravating it for the first few days but….
  • Bed rest is not advised – it will make your pain worse and make you stiff.
  • Keep gently active and return to all activities within your pain-free limits, including going to work.

Myth No 3: My back pain is due to something being ‘out of place’

  • The joints may not be moving smoothly but they are not ‘out of place’.
  • X-rays and scans rarely show any joint displacement.
  • The popping noise you may hear when being manipulated is not a bone or a joint going back into place. The noise you hear is negative air pressure in that joint being released by the thrust of the manipulation.

Myth No 4: I need a scan or X-ray for my back pain

In most cases of LBP, scans are not necessary as the result of them will not affect the treatment you need to clear the pain. Your Chartered Physiotherapist will request a scan if:
  • There are signs of a serious problem (we call these red flags)
  • You are not responding to treatment as we expect you to
  • Most back pain is what we call “non-specific” and the scans and X-Rays will only show normal ageing.

Myth No 5: I need an operation to cure my back pain

  • Only a very small amount of people with back pain require surgery.
  • It is not usually the first choice of treatment and is often only considered as a very last resort
  • There is no quick fix for back pain, but exercise will keep you supple and strong which will prevent future episodes of back pain.