1. Discs ‘slip ‘out of place.
Discs are the fluid-filled rubbery pads that separate the bones of the spine. In fact, they are ‘glued’ to the bones above and below them and cannot ‘slip’ anywhere.
They can, however, bulge (herniate) and occasionally burst (prolapse) allowing the gel-like inner material to ooze outwards.
2. Disc problems are caused by heavy lifting.
Disc problems in the lumbar spine are often brought on by a combination of bend/lift/twist which exerts maximum pressure on the disc but they can be caused by something as simple as a sneeze or bending forward to lift a cup off a table. It is thought that some people genetically inherit a weakness in the discs so if you wish to avoid problems choose your parents carefully!
3. If you have an episode of back pain it will always recur.
This can happen but is not inevitable. You might want to address the factors that have pre-disposed you to problems. Are you overweight, too sedentary or relatively inflexible? Your osteopath can advise you on the best route to avoiding recurrences.
4. Wearing a back support or corset will prevent back problems.
In fact, the use of back supports has largely been phased out. They limit movement and flexibility and long-term use weakens the muscles of the back and abdomen that provide a natural corset. They also sometimes provide a false sense of security. Should you really be lifting that piano…?
5. Back pain sufferers should sleep on hard surfaces.
Only if you’re more comfortable doing so. Spending a restless night on a board isn’t going to help anyone. Your bed should be supportive and comfortable for you. Steer clear of over-priced “orthopaedic” beds often bought in haste and panic which don’t suit you or your partner. If you have acute back pain which makes it difficult to turn over in bed, try lying on a thick duvet on the floor for a night or two.
© Justine Knowles 2018