Getting a Handle on Back and Neck Pain Myths

January 10, 2020
Dr. G. Balamurali

A look at back and neck pain in people

A Few Stats

  • Globally, the most common reason for a doctor’s visit is back or neck pain.
  • It is the 3rd most common reason for surgery.
  • It is the 5th most common reason for a hospital stay.
  • Over 80% of people in developing countries experience one instance of severe back pain.
  • By the age of 40, half the people have had back pain that made them change an activity.
  • 95% of back pains can be treated with a change in lifestyle or medication.
  • 5% of back pain requires surgery.

Both back and neck pain may seem simple, but they are complicated issues because their root cause differs greatly. From injuries to the infection to a medical condition, anything can lead to neck or back pain which makes diagnosing them a difficult task. For example, in old people, the prevalent cause of pain is cancer. In severe cases, which are just 5%, the pain radiates into legs and arms, which leads to:

  • Inability to stand, walks, or use parts of the body.
  • Different sensations in parts of the body.
  • Incapability to pass urine or defecate.

It is because, typically, the source of pain comes from multiple factors that many myths surround both kinds of pain. In this article, we bust some of these myths and help you manage your pain better. If you are not suffering from back or neck pain, awareness of these myths can help you at a later stage of life, so read on.

Uncovering the truth behind pain myths

Pain happens only to other people

The majority of people mistakenly believe that back and neck problems that cause pain won’t happen to them. This is untrue. Almost everyone has back pain at some point in time. That stats prove this as a fact. So, don’t think you will never suffer from back or neck ache. While it is true that physically active people are less likely to have pain troubles as compared to those who live a sedentary life, chronic pain can strike anyone.

Severe pain can cause paralysis.

It is not true that lower back pain always results in paralysis. Lower back pain is usually caused by the nerve roots in the spine. Paralysis can be an outcome of back or neck pain when there is a severe infection or a tumour. But, this happens in very, very rare cases.

Back and neck pain will worsen with age.

Another common misbelief is that if you suffer from back or neck pain during young age, it will worsen with time. This is technically inaccurate. The age group that suffers pain the most is 35 to 55. As people leave their 50’s and enter into their 60’s, they are less likely to have back or neck pain. Yes, disc degeneration does happen with age, but it doesn’t have to lead to pain.

What To Do When Suffering From Pain?

One last myth that is attached to back and neck pain is its management. The majority of people believe that the best course of action when in pain is to take complete bed rest. Research shows that this is the opposite of what a person should be doing. Given below is a comparison between what happens when you stay active and when you take bed rest.

Complete Rest

The muscles of the body get very stiff, and then they slowly begin to weaken. This leads to the bone getting weaker as a consequence; you lose all physical fitness. This impacts your mental health and leads to depression, which makes the aches feel worse. Ultimately, it gets tougher each day to carry on.

Staying Active

When you stay physically active, the muscles in your body develop and keep you supple. As a consequence, the bones get more durable and keep you at the fittest. This improves your mental health, and the brain automatically releases natural chemicals that reduce the pain. Ultimately, the recovery is much faster.

What do doctors recommend for pain?

The first step to take when suffering back or neck pain is to call your doctor right away. Contact the best spinal neurosurgeon in chennai, India. They will advise you on any non-surgical techniques to manage it, such as physiotherapy. When it comes to staying active, it is recommended as long as you stay within your pain limits. If the pain does require surgical intervention, remember that though spine surgery is risky, the doctors are equipped to perform it.

Related Posts:

Internationally trained Spinal Neurosurgeon with 24 years of surgical experience, from UK. Extensively trained in all niche aspects of spinal surgery as part of 3-year fellowship in the UK (Liverpool & Nottingham), USA (San Francisco & Chicago) and Switzerland (Zurich). Senior Spine and Neurosurgeon in India since 2011.
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About Dr. G. Balamurali
Head of Spine Surgery
Consultant Spine and Neurosurgeon
MBBS, MRCS (Ed), MD (UK), FRCS (Surgical Neurology)
Fellow in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery - UK, USA, Switzerland
Fellow in Complex Spine Surgery – UK, Switzerland
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