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  • Whetstone: 3 Totteridge Ln, Whetstone, London N20 0EX, UK
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Phone: 020 8368 9220

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10 Helpful and Unhelpful Back Facts


Blog post produced and written by Clinic Manager and Lead Sports Massage Therapist Jason Dodd. A former British Junior Number 1 Squash player, Jason specialises in specific sporting injuries and running related injuries.

During our time within Clinic, it is rare for us not to see at least 3-4 people every day who present with back pain.  This is not surpising seeing as back pain is one of, if not the most, debilitating causes of pain in the world. In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is often associated with costly, ineffective and sometimes harmful care.

But what drives disability and poor care?  Unhelpful beliefs about lower back pain (LBP) are associated with greater levels of pain, disability, work absenteeism, medication use and healthcare seeking.  Unhelpful beliefs are common in people with and without, and can be reinforced by the media, industry groups and even well-meaning clinicians (!!!).

Here, we take a look at some really UNHELPFUL lower back pain beliefs which are common, culturally endorsed and not supported by evidence (meaning there is no evidence to support any of these beliefs that are commonly held).

Ten unhelpful facts about LBP

  • Myth 1: LBP is usually a serious medical condition.

  • Myth 2: LBP will become persistent and deteriorate in later life.

  • Myth 3: Persistent LBP is always related to tissue damage.

  • Myth 4: Scans are always needed to detect the cause of LBP.

  • Myth 5: Pain related to exercise and movement is always a warning that harm is being done to the spine and a signal to stop or modify activity.

  • Myth 6: LBP is caused by poor posture when sitting, standing and lifting.

  • Myth 7: LBP is caused by weak ‘core’ muscles and and having a strong core protects against future LBP.

  • Myth 8: Repeated spinal loading results in ‘wear and tear’ and tissue damage.

  • Myth 9: Pain flare-ups are a sign of tissue damage and require rest.

  • Myth 10: Treatments such as strong medications, injections and surgery are effective, and necessary, to treat LBP.

So what can you do to help yourself?

First and foremost, being aware of these ‘myths’ and understanding a little more about the causes of back pain is a great place to start.  Changing our beliefs will give us a much more positive outlook on everything and ultimately lead to better outcomes.  Below we have provided a list of 10 HELPFUL FACTS about back pain which will hopefully help you understand things a little more.

Ten helpful facts about LBP

A positive mindset regarding LBP is associated with lower levels of pain, disability and healthcare seeking. Once red flags and serious pathology are excluded, evidence supports that:

  • Fact 1: LBP is not a serious life-threatening medical condition.

  • Fact 2: Most episodes of LBP improve and LBP does not get worse as we age.

  • Fact 3: A negative mindset, fear-avoidance behaviour, negative recovery expectations, and poor pain coping behaviours are more strongly associated with persistent pain than is tissue damage.

  • Fact 4: Scans do not determine prognosis of the current episode of LBP, the likelihood of future LBP disability, and do not improve LBP clinical outcomes.

  • Fact 5: Graduated exercise and movement in all directions is safe and healthy for the spine.

  • Fact 6: Spine posture during sitting, standing and lifting does not predict LBP or its persistence.

  • Fact 7: A weak core does not cause LBP, and some people with LBP tend to overtense their ‘core’ muscles. While it is good to keep the trunk muscles strong, it is also helpful to relax them when they aren’t needed.

  • Fact 8: Spine movement and loading is safe and builds structural resilience when it is graded.

  • Fact 9: Pain flare-ups are more related to changes in activity, stress and mood rather than structural damage.

  • Fact 10: Effective care for LBP is relatively cheap and safe. This includes: education that is patient-centred and fosters a positive mindset, and coaching people to optimise their physical and mental health (such as engaging in physical activity and exercise, social activities, healthy sleep habits and body weight, and remaining in employment).

We really hope that you have found this message beneficial.  If you wish to discuss it further with any of our therapists then please no not hesitate to contact a member of the team and we will be happy to speak with you about it.

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