The Back Place Blog

August 8, 2008

The Back: “Don’t misunderstand me”

Filed under: back,spine — Tags: , , , , , — Administrator @ 5:46 pm

the back
It affects eight out of 10 people at some point in their life. In the United States, it’s the leading cause of disability for men over 45 years old. It’s the second most common reason for a visit to a primary care physician and the fifth most frequent cause of hospitalization.

With stats like that, you’d think we’d know the basic facts about back pain by now. Yet misconceptions stubbornly persist. Here are a few:

• Physical activity will prevent back pain.
Back pain can affect anyone, regardless of their level of physical activity. Some sports are more likely to trigger back pain, including golf and volleyball.
•Rest is the key to recovery from back pain.
Yes, a short period of bed rest may help reduce acute back pain. But in most cases more than 1 or 2 days of rest can actually lead to increased pain and problems like muscle atrophy, bone loss and risk of blood clots.
•If I have back problems when I’m young, they will get worse as I age.
The incidence of back pain is highest between ages 35 and 55. After age 55, people usually have less pain, especially pain from disc problems.
•The spine is delicate and easily injured.
Actually, the spine and its surrounding muscles tendons and ligaments comprise a well-designed structure that’s extremely strong, flexible and supportive. Generally the back doesn’t need to be overprotected after recovering from an episode of pain (there are exceptions to this, such as an unstable spine fracture).
•There’s a standard way to treat back pain.
If only. Compared to other medical conditions, there are few standardized approaches to diagnosis and treatment of back problems. Physical therapists, surgeons, chiropractors, osteopathic doctors and other spine specialists will often disagree on the cause and treatment of back pain.

What to do? Prevention is obviously paramount. Strengthening exercises, flexibility exercises and aerobic conditioning will help maintain the back and spine. Lifting correctly (using your thigh muscles to do the heavy work), shifting your weight often while standing, wearing the right shoes or supports, sitting properly and sleeping with your head in line with your spine are all vital ways to protect your back.

Don’t let a little (or big) misunderstanding ruin your relationship with your back. It’s the stable platform of your body and deserves to be treated right.

Sources include Mark Vettraaino and Andrew J. Cole as quoted in BackSaver materials.

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