Despite being one of the most common reasons people schedule a doctor's appointment in the United States, back pain isn't always fully understood by everyone who might experience it at one time or another. Lingering myths about back pain may lead to some people making assumptions that could result in delayed treatment, unnecessary risks, or unfounded fears.
The Level of Back Pain Suggests How Serious the Problem Is
Back pain that's acute (sudden) often correlates to the amount of damage causing the discomfort. However, back pain that's chronic (lasting 3-6 months or more) is more complex. Consequently, the actual source of pain could be something minor like bone spurs (osteophytes) pressing on a nerve root and triggering symptoms in the thighs, legs, arms, or shoulders, depending on what's being compressed and where.
Being Physically Active Means You're Not Likely to Have Back Pain
Sure, poor diet choices and a lack of physical activity can contribute to back pain. But top athletes who generally take care of their bodies aren't immune to back pain. Activities and sports such as tennis, golf, volleyball, and running involve repetitive movements that can affect the spine or its supporting muscles, joints, and discs. Not doing a proper warm-up and having poor technique or form can also contribute to back pain that physically active people may experience.
Back Pain Runs In Families
Just because your mom or dad has been dealing with back pain for years doesn't automatically mean you'll have the same problem. Most common causes of back pain are structural in nature (e.g., injury, damage), not hereditary. This also means parents aren't likely to pass back problems onto their children.
Image Tests Are Always Needed to Diagnose Back Pain
Most instances of back pain can be diagnosed based on a patient's medical history and description of symptoms. It's typically only when initial treatment recommendations aren't providing relief or symptoms are becoming worse that additional testing becomes necessary to determine what's going on internally in greater detail.
Spine-related aches and pains are often temporary. For times when back pain becomes a frequent occurrence, however, knowing when to see a doctor can make a difference in the results you may experience from treatment efforts. Also, surgery is unlikely to be recommended as a first attempt at pain relief. If it does become an option, many decompression and stabilization procedures performed today are done with less-invasive techniques.