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Myths and Truths about Back Pain

Back pain is common, affecting about 60 to 80 percent of people in Western countries. Other than injury, if the pain lasts only a day or two, it is most probably due to muscle strain. However, if the pain is lasting and continual, it may be attributed to disk degeneration, resulting in the vertebrae crushing against one another.

One of the myths about back pain is that it can be cured by back surgery.

The truth is that back surgery may not be the best option in treating back pain for various reasons:

Back surgery - removing a disk - is a very invasive procedure, often with various complications.

Back surgery does not stop or reduce the pain.

Research studies have shown that X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs on healthy individuals with no complaint of any back problems reveal that as many as 20 percent of them are in fact having protruding disks and other problematic abnormalities. These findings indicate that back pain may be more than just back problems requiring back surgery.

Without back surgery, damaged disks may often improve by themselves. Even tissue having herniated out from the interior of a disk may be resorbed on its own.

Back surgery may not be necessary in many cases, except where nerves may be further damaged. A recent review of eleven countries showed that surgery rates are determined not by how badly operations are needed, but by the availability of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, with the United States being at the top of the list.

Another myth is that bed rest is good for back pain.

The truth is that bed rest may delay recuperation.

A research study in the United Kingdom showed that both groups of patients with and without bed rest improved their conditions - which is typical in any acute back pain. However, the patients who stayed active showed faster recovery than those who took bed rest. The reason is that staying active not only keeps the back flexible but also improves blood flow, which helps alleviate the pain.

Immobilization may not be good for your back.

Could it be a myth that back pain originates from the back muscle spasms and sprains?

The reality maybe that your back problems could be linked to artery blockage. As a matter of fact, according to research studies in Finland, many patients with chronic back pain also have artery problems. The truth is that clogged lumber arteries, often a result of smoking and stress, contribute to poor blood circulation - a major factor in chest pain and back pain.

For thousands of years, the Chinese have been using acupuncture to treat back problems because they believe that when the "qi" (internal life force or energy) is blocked, there is stagnation in the blood (that is, artery blockage according to Western medicine), which causes pain and a host of health problems. Acupuncture is the application of needles to unblock the blood flow. This concept explains why artery blockage may be one of the causes of back pain, rather than the back muscles causing the problem.

If back pain is due to artery blockage, then to prevent it is to adopt a healthy lifestyle: a healthy-heart diet, which is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium; a regular exercise regimen; and stress-control living.

It is also a myth that back pain has to be treated with painkillers, such as Aspirin.

The truth is that nutritional supplements can act as painkillers. For example, vitamin B6 not only increases your pain control but also prevents a relapse. The amino acid tryptophan (not available in the United States) increases the amount of serotonin in your brain, thereby enhancing your pain control. Ginger, a spice, helps block inflammation in joint pain.

Back pain is a complex physical condition, requiring both conventional and unconventional treatments.

About Author Stephen Lau :

Stephen Lau is a researcher and writer. He has published several books, and has created websites on health and healing, such as eating disorders, natural healing, longevity health, and mental depression. For more information about his work, go to: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Saturday, April 25, 2009
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