5 Myths About Low Back Pain

By Ehren Allen, PT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

JOI Has Identified 5 Myths About Low Back Pain 

Low back pain is widespread.  80% of people will experience an episode of lower back pain at some point in their life.   But why is it so common, and what can you do about it?  Below are 5 myths about low back pain.

5 Myths About Low Back Pain

5 myths about low back pain

Low back pain

Myth #1 – I pulled a muscle in my low back

It is possible to pull or strain a muscle in the lower back, but this is rarely the case.  Most of the muscles in the low back are large and have a lot of blood supply.  There may be spasms and soreness in the lower back muscles, but it is rare to strain them.

The most common cause of low back pain is disk irritation.  The disks between the vertebrae are the most vulnerable structures in the lower back.  Even mild inflammation in or around the disk can cause pain, spasms, and referred symptoms down the leg.  This is also known as Sciatica.

If you would like to learn more about low back anatomy, this video may help: anatomy videos

Myth #2 – I need to rest until my low back pain goes away

It’s OK to rest for a day or 2, but prolonged bed rest is not healthy for several reasons.

  1. Movement can actually help the inflammation to decrease.
  2. Prolonged bed rest can lead to a loss of general conditioning and muscle strength.
  3. Standing decreases pain in many with low back pain.

Myth # 3 – I need to stretch my hamstrings to help my low back pain

Stretching is important to general health, but stretching the hamstrings is not recommended with most low back pain.  Stretching the hamstrings may actually increase pain down the leg.  It may feel good for a few minutes to stretch the hamstrings, but there may be more pain later.

Stretching the hamstrings can also stretch the sciatic nerve.  The Sciatic nerve is a large nerve that is made up of smaller nerves from the low back.  Stretching that nerve when it is painful can increase inflammation and pain.

5 Myths About Low Back Pain

Sciatic nerve position in the leg.

Myth #4 – Once I have low back pain, I will always have back issues

This is not true for most people.  Low back pain is widespread, but it goes away in most people in 6 to 10 weeks.  But, it is important to stay active and mobile if you can.  There are things you can do to help prevent a recurrence of lower back pain.

  1. Consider a standing workstation.  Most people work at a computer these days.  Sitting at a computer station can lead to poor posture, increased neck pain, and lower back pain.  Standing can improve the position of the lower back and limit pain.
  2. Stay fit!  Being overweight increases forces on the lumbar spine.  Strength and conditioning can help avoid a painful lower back.
  3. Go to Physical Therapy.  A physical therapist can help develop an exercise program to decrease low back pain and help you learn to lift and sit properly.
  4. Sciatica

    Pinched human sciatic nerve


Myth #5 –  I need to have an MRI before I do anything

Most of the time, you don’t need an MRI when you have lower back pain.  An MRI can be helpful with severe low back issues that are not improving with conservative care.  MRIs can show disk, soft tissue, or nerve issues.  But, they are not necessary with many cases of lower back pain.  Why?

  1. Many people have disk or soft tissue abnormalities on MRI that are not causing issues.
  2. An MRI is a picture of a moment in time and may not reflect the low back’s current status.
  3. Studies show that when people see MRI issues, they tend to be afraid to move and perform daily activities, even if they are minor.  This can lead to other problems.

Low back pain happens. It does not have to ruin your life. Know the 5 myths of back pain and know the facts.

If you have low back pain, the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute can help!  JOI has physical therapists, physicians, and orthopedic surgeons who specialize in treating low back pain.  From minor issues to severe ones, JOI has the answer for you.  To schedule appointments for JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045. 

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