Myths & facts about back pain

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- 9 out of 10 Americans will experience debilitating back pain sometime in their lives. It's one of the most common ailments brought on by disease, injury, or age. And we spend at least $50 billion each year trying to find relief. But relief doesn't have to be so costly.

Many people think surgery is the answer, but Dr. Corey Wallach of the Inova Spine Institute says most back pain can relieved with basic activities like physical therapy, weight loss, and home stretching.

Dr. Wallach says, "The number 1 reason people come see doctors is back pain. It's more common than the common cold."

Recent studies suggest taking aspirin and steroid injections aren't as effective as once thought for relieving back pain.

"The most common things people complain of is when they have low back pain is that they are scared, they are wondering why they are having it," adds Dr. Wallach.

The truth is the majority of it will get better with conservative care. A myth about back pain include measuring the pain with actual back damage.

Dr. Wallach says, "People believe often that if they have something abnormal on their MRI that that's definitely what's causing the symptoms, but that's not the case."

Is your bed the culprit? Just pick a mattress that makes you comfortable.

"The key is having the good body mechanics and the way you get in and out of the bed and the way that your get in and out of your chair and the way you conduct yourself throughout the day to be healthy for your back," adds Dr. Wallach.

You don't have to be older to experience pain in your back. Back pain happens to everybody, all ages, all genders, it's ubiquitous.

A common culprit that you may not consider, your shoes.

Dr. Wallach says, "Shoe wear has a lot to do with back pain and the simplest way to find out if it does if your are only having your back hurting while you are in those shoes, it is typical that might be the cause of it."

Spinal surgery is necessary when neurologic manifestations arise from back pain. The symptoms include pain radiating to your legs, overall body weakness or a numbness from decreased neurologic sensation.


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