Common Misconceptions About Back Pain and How to Treat it

October 24, 2023

back pain

If you’re one of the 90% of people who’ve dealt with back pain, you know it can affect everything from your daily routine to your overall well-being. The good news is that there are ways to treat it – and effective treatment starts with understanding the source of your pain.

To help, Dr. Barry Rubin, F.A.A.P.M.R, a physiatrist specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Orlin & Cohen, sheds light on common misconceptions about the causes of back pain and explains how to treat it.

What Causes Back Pain?

Most back pain is caused by strained muscles or ligaments, often due to sudden movements, heavy lifting, accidents, or playing sports. Pain can also result from pressure on nerves when the discs between your spine bones press against them. Being overweight, not exercising, and experiencing stress can also contribute to or exacerbate back pain.

Learn more about the top five causes of chronic back pain.

5 Common Misconceptions About Back Pain

Back pain indicates a serious problem or injury

When you experience back pain, it’s easy to be concerned it’s something serious. In many cases, it could be a minor injury, like a strained muscle or ligament. However, if you experience persistent or severe discomfort, you should request an appointment with an orthopedist or a spine specialist to understand the source of your pain and treatment options.

Resting is the best cure

Lying down when your back hurts might seem like the obvious thing to do, but too much rest can slow down your recovery. Light movement and gentle exercises can help relieve back pain, as long as they’re not causing any additional discomfort while you’re doing them.

Walking, swimming, and yoga are a few low-impact physical activities that can improve blood flow, strengthen muscles, and, ultimately, help you feel better.

Exercise will make back pain worse

As mentioned above, certain exercises can relieve back pain. In addition to low-impact exercises, strengthening your core muscles – which include your pelvis, lower back, hips, and stomach – and stretching can ease discomfort.

Exercises such as planks, crunches, leg raises, and bridges effectively target key core muscles, enhancing overall back strength and core stability. If you struggle to complete these exercises, consider using a modified position – and if you experience pain, it’s best to stop and consult an orthopedic specialist who may prescribe physical therapy to build your strength safely.

You need a new mattress or pillow

While a comfortable mattress and pillow can ensure a good night’s sleep, it’s usually not the sole cause of back pain. Your posture, movements throughout the day, and muscle imbalances all play significant roles in your back health.

It’s worth noting that a typical mattress will last seven to 10 years, and the average pillow will last around 18 months to three years before it loses support. So, before you invest in a new mattress, consider these other factors.

Back pain is caused by slouched posture

Proper posture is important, but chronic back pain usually doesn’t stem from slouching alone. The relationship between slouching and back pain differs for each person, and issues like herniated discs and spinal degeneration can manifest regardless of posture.

How to Relieve Back Pain

There is no reason to live with back pain, and with today’s advanced medicine, there are many breakthrough treatments for chronic pain, including Intracept® and Evoke®.

If you are experiencing consistent or severe back pain, you should get a professional opinion. At Orlin & Cohen, our spine and back specialists can coordinate diagnostic tests like MRIs and CT scans to determine the source of your pain and create a custom treatment plan. In most cases, patients return to everyday activities with minimally invasive, conservative treatments, like physical therapy and interventional pain management.

Ready to eliminate back pain? We’ve got specialists for that. Orlin & Cohen’s team features some of the nation’s best orthopedic doctors, who can help you feel better, faster. Request a same-day appointment.