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Low back pain myths – Part Six: exercise, work, bedrest and wheelchairs

This blog and video deals with the myth of bedrest, exercising with pain, and a classic old chestnut ‘you’ll end up in a wheelchair’, plus surgery and medication. 

If you missed the start of this series with clips of the talk up to this point, click here to go back to the start and see the first one.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this series, feel free to post a comment on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/AdelaideWestPhysio

[If you would like to cut to the chase and get the top 10 myths in a free printable guide, just click here]


Myth #12 – You shouldn’t exercise or work with back pain.

Instead, you need bedrest and wait for it to heal and be painfree before getting back to work or exercise.

Fact: Bed rest and missing work are not helpful!!

Short periods of rest and even some bedrest, and reduction or modification of load in early days of an injury is often necessary. BUT…. completely avoiding activity until pain has ceased is not recommended and can in fact be harmful.

Early return to work and useful activity shows better outcomes – keep moving!

These decisions about return to work can be made with a well-informed health care professional.

Motion is lotion.

 

Myth #13 – You are going to end up in a wheelchair

Fact: The vast majority of low back pain situations do not end up with people in a wheelchair.

I honestly don’t know how many health practitioners actually say it, but heaps of patients over the years say that they have been told that they will end up in a wheelchair without treatment.

Now, there are situations that can lead to paralysis, like unstable spinal fractures eg from trauma, some spine tumours and some spine infections.

However, the vast majority of low back pain does not result in paralysis.   Moreover, the amount of back pain does not indicate a problem that will lead to paralysis either.

It is simply scare-mongering.

 

Myth #14: Long-term pain indicates you need back surgery for your back problems.

Fact: Spine surgery actually has a reduced likelihood of being successful when treating chronic back pain.

For patients experiencing low back pain, 92%-96% can be treated successfully without back surgery.

As long as the ‘red flag’ situations have been excluded (ie the serious pathologies for which a GP or physio will be able to screen) first line of management should be focused on return to function, exercise and education.

 

Myth #15 – You need pain relief and anti-inflammatories to help it to heal.

Fact: Some use of pain relief in early stages of an injury may make you more comfortable but medications don’t help you heal.

You body has the amazing capacity to heal on its own.  The healing isn’t done by the medication – it is done by your own body.

Remember that the amount of pain doesn’t necessarily match with the amount of healing that has happened.

The most recent evidence says that first line management should be non-pharmacological.

 


If you would like to speak directly with a physio to discuss your problem, simply book online for a free 15 minute pre-assessment consultation, or you can call us on 8356 1000 to organise your free pre-assessment consultation.

This session can be in-person in the clinic, which is recommended as you will get more useful information. It can also be a phone call consultation for your convenience.

 

YouTube video

If you missed the start of this series with clips of the talk up to this point, click here to go back to the start and see the first one.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this series, feel free to post a comment on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/AdelaideWestPhysio

[If you would like to cut to the chase and get the top 10 myths in a free printable guide, just click here]

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About the author

Russell Mackenzie
Russell Mackenzie
Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
Russell Mackenzie

Russell Mackenzie

Russell is a physiotherapist and clinic owner in Adelaide, South Australia. He received his physiotherapy degree from UniSA in 1994, and has since also become a Credentialed McKenzie Therapist. Russell is the co-owner of Adelaide West Physio + Pilates and more recently, Adelaide West Headache Clinic, which was formed after becoming a Watson Headache Certified Practitioner to show his dedication and passion for headache and migraine treatment. Russell also aims to spread the word about the role of physiotherapy and non-surgical methods of helping persistent pain, low back pain and other conditions. Learn more about Russell on our About Us page.
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