You stopped movingDean Drobot/Shutterstock
When it comes to back pain, there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of suffering. “Low-back pain is now the biggest global cause of disability,” says professor Martin Underwood of the University of Warwick in the UK, one of the authors of a new series of papers on low-back pain published in the medical journal The Lancet. Currently, more than 540 million people worldwide are suffering, he points out. According to the new findings—put together by an international team of doctors and researchers, many doctors are treating the problem wrong. “Public beliefs, healthcare practices, and workplace policies have increasingly led to the widespread but mostly unhelpful idea that back pain is a medical problem that necessitates stopping usual activities,” Dr. Underwood says. The opposite is true—here’s what you do and don’t need for your back.
Check out some of these surprising reasons for your back pain.
You don’t need MRIs or imagingSyda Productions/Shutterstock
Once your doctor rules out serious issues like cancer, fracture, infection, and arthritis, a back scan is an unnecessary expense. “Everyone else has ‘non-specific’ low back pain and we manage it in the same way,” says the lead author of the Lancet research, professor Rachelle Buchbinder, PhD, a researcher of clinical epidemiology at Monash University in Australia. “Unfortunately sometimes patients become very focused on needing to find a specific diagnosis.” Although back pain sufferers may push for scans, says Dr. Buchbinder, the evidence indicates that imaging isn’t much help in identifying the source of pain.
Here are more secrets pain doctors won’t tell you.