5 Facts About Low Back Pain

Have you ever had low back pain?  You are not alone.  Not only is low back pain common, but it is the leading cause of disability worldwide, can be very costly to treat and can lead to unneeded and ineffective care.[1]

It causes missed time at work and limited ability to perform daily routines and hobbies.   There are many beliefs about low back pain that need to be dispelled.  These unhelpful beliefs are reinforced by our society (popular beliefs, media, and sometimes even medical providers).

In this blog we are going to discuss some myths and facts about low back pain.  This information will help you navigate through the low back issues when it happens to you.

Myths about Low Back Pain

  • Strong medications (opioids), injections and surgery are necessary for treatment of back pain
  • Low back pain is always a SERIOUS medical condition
  • MRI’s are always needed to determine low back pain causes
  • Pain in the low back requires rest and is a sign of damage to the back
  • Loading your spine with exercises will cause damage and flare ups of your pain

The above myths are very common thoughts people have about low back pain.  The research and evidence about low back pain has gotten better and we understand more about the spine.   These myths about low back pain can hinder recovery from pain.   Treatment is not a one size fits all approach.   Having a PT assess and then guide you through the pain.

Truths about Low Back Pain

  • Research suggests that low back pain is managed just as well and if not better than medications with engaging in physical activity, exercising, and moving often. Getting PT first helps!
  • Low back pain is not usually a serious condition, especially in the absence of red flags (weakness in the legs, bowel/bladder dysfunction).
  • MRI’s are not needed in most cases of back pain. Often with conservative treatment and time the low back pain will resolve. A physical therapist can help you determine the severity of the issue with an evaluation.
  • Pain is more related to things like changes in your activity levels and stress levels than actual structural damage, even if the pain is severe.
  • Being active can create a more resilient tissue and reduce incidence of back pain. Exercise is a safe and effective way to manage your pain in many cases of back pain.

How can Physical Therapy help with my low back pain?

A physical therapist can guide you through the recovery by assisting in the following

  • Educating you on what is and what is not appropriate activity and exercise to do when hurting
  • Find out your causes of low back pain and how to address these with conservative treatment
  • Assess strength and mobility through a screen to determine the cause of your pain, not just treatment of the symptoms of your back pain.
  • Providing hands on treatment, prescribing exercises, assessing your movement patterns
  • Create a plan to safely and effectively get you back to your prior activities without pain

Our physical therapists at Back in Action Physical Therapy are highly educated and experienced in all spinal conditions from acute lower back pain flare ups to herniated discs.

Our goal is to alleviate your low back pain by addressing the root causes of the pain, not just treat the symptoms. We want to improve your quality of life and get you back to what you enjoy doing whatever that may be.

David Mills, PT, MPT
Partner/Lead PT Back in Action Apex


[1] Foster NE, Anema JR, Cherkin D et al.  Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions.  The Lancet 2018; 391:2368-83.

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