(CBS) Back pain affects 8 out of 10 people at some point of their lives, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
However, there are many misconceptions about this common health problem.
CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton debunks some of those myths on “The Early Show” Wednesday:
Myth: Only overweight people get back pain.
While being overweight can put you at high-risk, it is not the ONLY risk factor. As mentioned, eight out of 10 people are affected by back pain — not everyone is overweight. Anyone can suffer from back pain. According to WebMD, eating disorder patients may suffer from bone loss and have back pain. Other risk factors for back pain are smoking, old age, stress and depression.
Myth: Back surgery is the best medical option.
According to a recent study, complex and sometimes risky spine procedures are often overprescribed for simple back pain, which can lead to higher costs and greater complications. It’s increased 15-fold in just six years. Patients with back pain can improve their condition and overcome pain relief without complex surgery with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. According to another study from The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90 percent of patients with low back pain will see their symptoms fade on their own within three months. The first course of treatment for patients with low back pain should be non-invasive.
Myth: Stay in bed until pain goes away.
You can rest for one to two days for an acute injury or strain, but anymore can cause the muscles to weaken and slow your recovery. If you are going to rest in bed, make sure you get up and walk a few minutes every hr to keep your muscles strong.
If you rest and don’t feel better and experience pain with any of these symptoms: trouble urinating, weakness, numbness in your legs, fever, weight loss, you should go see your doctor immediately.
Myth: Exercise is bad for your back.
If you work your abs, your core, this could help condition the back muscles and stabilize the spine. Exercises like yoga can really be good for the back; it can help reverse the muscle weakness by strengthening the mid-section, which can help decrease the stress on the spine.