Let’s begin by learning some facts to separate truth from myth with regards to back pain. First, under one percent of acute lower back pain is the result of a serious infection or condition like cancer or a spinal injury. For those under 50, the rate is even lower. Back pain is the number one disability for those under age 45. And it runs second, after the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.
“There is nothing really wrong with you.” Myth! Chronic pain sufferers report that doctors generally tell this to about 90 percent of them and it is incorrect. In reality, most low back pain cases or some 90 percent generally come from an unknown cause, like an infection or a particular injury. And the duration of the pain runs generally from four to six weeks. “People don’t die from chronic back pain.” Wrong! The pain combined with depression and anxiety in long-term cases places sufferers at risk for suicide, which does happen from time to time.
“Most back pain requires surgery.” Myth! On the contrary, under two percent of patients with back pain need surgery. However, back pain is the third top reason for surgery. “Only a small percentage of workers suffer back pain on the job.” Wrong! The top occupational hazard in the USA is back pain.
“Lie down and rest for back pain.” Au contraire. Contrary to popular believe, bed rest can hinder recovery. Health care providers recommend remaining active to decrease down time for patients.
“Men suffer back pain more than women.” Not! With regards to gender issues and back pain, it is a myth that men suffer back pain more than women. In reality, the only main difference is with secondary pain to disk disorders during middle age. However, with regards to race, low back pain is reported more frequently among Caucasians than other races including African Americans. “If a patient’s pain description lacks a regular, consistent pattern, it’s probably imagined or exaggerated.” Myth! No two people, no two cases are totally 100 percent identical. Activities, events, pain and people themselves vary from day to day and there is no 100 percent correct way to describe pain in words to fit a perfectly accurate diagnosis.