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What You Need To Know About Back Pain

1. Back pain is not a result of “core weakness”.


Your allegedly “weak” core does not cause back pain! Actually, research shows that these muscles tend to be overactive in people with back pain. Often this overactivity is a protective response to limit how much your back moves. Having a strong core is important but knowing when and how to brace appropriately is more important. Typically, people have a harder time learning to relax the core muscles during normal, everyday tasks.


2. Aging is not a cause of back pain.

While many people hold the belief that the body should wear out and symptoms worsen as they get older, this isn’t supported by research. Contrary to popular belief, LESS movement and activity leads to more symptoms. Those who remain active into their later years report fewer incidents and less intense bouts of back pain.

3. Back pain is not caused by poor posture.


Sitting, standing and bending over do not directly cause back pain (they can increase existing back pain but are rarely the source). The problem arises from PROLONGED positions, when you live in one specific position for hours upon hours, your back can become irritated.

4. Normal everyday loading and bending of the spine does not “wear out” the back.

We lift weights to make muscles bigger and strong. The spine is designed to move! Loading and moving the spine actually nourishes the spinal tissues and structures. So as long as an activity is started gradually and engaged in regularly, the spine can tolerated bending, twisting and lifting.

5. A spike in back pain doesn’t mean you are damaging tissue.


An increase in back pain is not typically related to damaged or compromised tissue. While a flare-up can be intense and frightening, it is often triggered by environmental factors such as poor sleep, poor mood, increased stress, sedentary lifestyle or performing an unfamiliar activity. Taking steps to limit these factors can help limit and even prevent flare-ups.

6. Injections, surgery and prescription medications are not a cure.


These 3 types of interventions should be the final choice in care for a painful back. Each comes loaded with their own respective risks and side effects. Treating your back pain via Physical Therapy is the best and most conservative method of improving your spinal health. Make sure you extinguish all conservative methods of treatment before deciding to undergo surgery.

7. Pain associated with exercise and specific movements does not mean that harm is being done.


Persistent pain is related more to sensitivity than true tissue damage meaning that as pain has become a regular occurrence the tissues in and around your spine have become sensitized (sensitive) to touch, movement and loading. So when you begin treating the back pain you may notice a slight increase in symptoms initially, the movement stirs up the sensitive tissue but your brain begins to decrease the sensitivity as you become more active.

8. X-rays and MRI typically do not show the cause of back pain.


Diagnostic imaging is good information to have BUT it only gives us an image of the tissue in question while you’re still AND in an unloaded position as it relates to the spine. Typically, if you’re over the age of 20 you most likely have a disc bulge, degeneration, disc protrusion, arthritis, etc. and this likelihood increases as you age. The best part about how robust the spine is that you most likely do NOT have symptoms despite these scary diagnoses lurking on your imaging report. Scans are but a snapshot of your spine in a single moment in time. Tissue heals. Disc herniations heal. Imaging findings often correlate poorly to reported symptoms meaning you can have intense symptoms and a totally normal imaging report and on the other hand you can have an abnormal imaging report and NO SYMPTOMS!


We work with people in the Roswell, Alpharetta and Marietta areas and frequently have clients from neighboring states come through our doors who are experiencing a variety of aches and pains. Southeast Physical Therapy specializes in treating low back pain and enjoys helping people get back to doing the things they love. If you’re currently experiencing back pain, please call us directly, we would love to help. 678-640-4606



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