6 things your Doctor got wrong about back pain
The wonderful, glorious thing about medicine is that it is constantly improving and changing.
But it means that keeping up to date on what really works is a job in itself. A British Medical Journal article once estimated that family doctors needed to do 60 hours of reading a WEEK just to have a broad understanding of the changes involved. And that is literally life and death.
Is it any wonder then that the advice many doctors give about back pain is probably a bit out of date? In fact a huge body of research recently released by The Lancet suggests that most advice given by doctors about back is incorrect.
Fortunately back pain is my specialist subject. And I read and travel far and wide to stay up to date! (but please don’t ask me about your heart medication!)
So here are 6 back pain beliefs that aren’t helping:
- You need to rest – staying still will cause you to get stiffer. Gentle movement, as much as you can tolerate, is better. That way you don’t get “stuck”.
- Apply heat – this is an inflamed area. So don’t add more heat to an already hot place! An ice pack will help cool the area and numb it a little, helping you be more comfortable.
- Don’t ever lift weight again (or other activity limits) – gentle, gradual increases in movement and weight help build strong muscles and bones. Slowly working as far as you can tolerate will help you stay more mobile long term. Maybe don’t run a marathon today, but there’s no reason you can’t run one soon!
- Injections – steroid injections can be a wonderful emergency, short term pain relief. Great to get you through a flight home tomorrow. But long term they start to break down structures in the joints. And all they do is mask the symptoms rather than treat the cause.
- Relying on MRI scans/X–rays – more and more evidence shows that scans aren’t useful for diagnosis of muschuloskeletal pain. If the doctor hasn’t taken the time to properly assess you (and that means taking your clothes off!) then they haven’t got the full picture no matter how many pictures they take.
- Surgery helps – many surgical procedures are being shown to have a success rate lower than placebo. But with a HUGE amount of risk. In most trials physiotherapy has the same results (or better!).
Want more information about what you can do to reduce your back pain?
1. Book an appointment with me! (obviously!)
2. Download my 7 Myths about Back Pain guide using the form below.