Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is often associated with costly, ineffective and sometimes harmful care. What drives disability and poor care? Unhelpful beliefs about LBP are associated with greater levels of pain, disability, work absenteeism, medication use and healthcare seeking. Unhelpful beliefs are common in people with and without LBP, and can be reinforced by the media, industry groups and well-meaning clients.
- Rarely Dangerous – LBP is not a serious life-threatening medical condition.
- Ageing – Most episodes of LBP improve and does not get worse as we age.
- Tissue – A negative mindset, fear-avoidance behaviour, negative recovery expectations, and poor pain coping behaviours are more strongly associated with persistent pain than is tissue damage.
- Scans – Scans do not determine prognosis of the current episode of back pain, the likelihood of future LBP disability, and do not improve clinical outcomes.
- Sore.. But Safe – Graduated exercise and movement in all directions is safe and healthy for the spine.
- Posture – Spine posture during, standing and lifting does not predict low back pain or its persistence.
- Strength – Keep trunk / core muscles strong through resistance training, yoga, pilates and other exercise.
- Loading and Bending – Spine movement and loading is safe and builds structural resilience when it is graded.
- Pain – Pain flareups are more related to changes in activity, stress and mood rather than structural damage.
- Care – Effective care is relatively cheap and safe. This includes:
- Patient-centred education that fosters a positive mindset;
- Coaching people to optimise their physical health through resistance training, stretching, exercise and leisure activities;
- Healthy sleeping habits;
- Maintaining healthy body weight; and
- Remaining in work.
If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in Weight Training: Why Everyone Should Lift , or What Happens To My Body When I Exercise?. LBP and other common injuries are covered in more detail in the Diploma of Fitness.