Myth: Back Pain Can Result in Paralysis
Truth: The spinal structures are typically strong and resilient and have excellent healing capabilities when treated appropriately. The common causes of back pain are often problems within the bony tissues, like a spinal vertebral fracture, or damage to the soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, nerve roots, or spinal discs.
For paralysis to occur, the sensitive inner structures of the spine, such as the spinal cord or cauda equina (a group of spinal nerves that descend from the spinal cord) must be affected to a degree that the nervous transmission of sensory and motor signals are decreased or lost. This occurrence is rare because:
Myth: Back Pain Is Always Caused by an Injury
Truth: The vast majority of back problems develop over time and may be due to wear-and-tear from repetitive trauma or unsupported posture. In contrast, a back injury is usually described as a one-time event and may occur from a motor vehicle collision, incorrect lifting technique, or a fall from the stairs.
The risk of developing back pain due to an injury is usually higher in individuals who have poorly conditioned tissues or who have an underlying condition, such as a bulging disc, which may suddenly herniate, causing the symptoms to exacerbate.
Any new development of back pain after a trauma, such as a sports injury or a fall, should be evaluated
Myth: Severe Back Pain Indicates a Serious Problem
Truth: When the lower back hurts, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. These symptoms may indicate a minor, treatable, and/or self-limiting problem, such as a pulled back muscle or an overstretched ligament, or a more debilitating condition that affects the spinal nerves and/or discs.
The nature and severity of symptoms usually differ from one person to the other. While a pulled muscle in the lower back can send intense flare-ups of pain, causing people to end up in the emergency room, a severely herniated disc may be in close proximity to a spinal nerve, and yet produce no symptoms.
Myth: Back Pain Is Not Related to Genetics
Truth: Just like the colour of hair or eyes, research suggests that specific changes in the lower back tissues, including alterations in the biochemical, metabolic, and functional capabilities may be related to genetics. These changes are mostly seen as:
Myth: If No Specific Back Problem Is Found, the Pain Must Be Psychological
1.Kim K-H, Kim DH. Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Pain. In: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier; 2010:1-28.
2.Fairbank J, Mallen C. Cauda equina syndrome: implications for primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2014;64(619):67–68. doi:10.3399/bjgp14X676988
3.Petr O, Glodny B, Brawanski K, et al. Immediate Versus Delayed Surgical Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation for Acute Motor Deficits. SPINE. 2019;44(7):454-463. doi:10.1097/brs.0000000000002295
4.Rider LS, Marra EM. Cauda Equina And Conus Medullaris Syndromes. [Updated 2020 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537200/
5.Williams FM, Bansal AT, van Meurs JB, et al. Novel genetic variants associated with lumbar disc degeneration in northern Europeans: a meta-analysis of 4600 subjects. Ann Rheum Dis. 2013;72(7):1141-1148. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201551