Back pain afflicts eight out of 10 Americans at some point in their lives, yet surveys show most people are misinformed about pain and its treatment. Here we set the record straight on three common myths:
MYTH 1: Working out makes it worse.
It may be last on your list when you're hurting, but exercise is actually one of the best ways to both ease and prevent back pain.
Your doctor can recommend gentle exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, increase your flexibility and improve your posture. Ask about yoga, too - research shows it's especially effective at reducing chronic low back pain. And to prevent back pain, stick to a regular routine that includes resistance exercises, stretching and low-impact aerobics, such as walking or swimming.
MYTH 2: Surgery is your best bet.
The rate of complex spine surgeries for simple back pain jumped fifteenfold in just five years, but there's little evidence of a benefit, says research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Ninety percent of people with back pain will get better without treatment or with conservative treatments for four to six weeks. Experts suggest trying non-invasive options first, such as physical therapy, exercise or medication.
MYTH 3: Mind-set doesn't matter.
Back pain is a physical condition, but how you think about it can absolutely affect how well you manage it. Focus on the bad - how much it hurts, what you can't do - and you may hurt more.
Shift your thinking, and studies show it may ease your pain.
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