Back pain is a common experience for many people, and an expression we hear often at the clinic is “my back is out”. In reality, there is no single joint in the back that can pop out or become dislocated like in the shoulder or hip. Thankfully when you have pain, your back isn’t actually “out” – and persisting with this concept can lead to misunderstandings about the root cause of your back pain.
Back pain and your spine.
The spine is made up of multiple vertebrae that are separated by intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers and provide stability to the spine. These discs can become damaged or wear down over time, leading to conditions such as herniated or bulging discs, which can cause back pain. However, even in these more extreme cases, the disc itself does not actually “come out” of place.
Muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues in the back can also contribute to pain and discomfort. Strains and sprains can cause the muscles to tighten, leading to a sensation of stiffness or aching. Additionally, certain activities such as sitting for extended periods of time, lifting overly heavy objects, or performing repetitive motions can place added load on the spine, sometimes leading to pain.
Why is this important? While you could argue that the words we use to describe pain don’t matter, we completely disagree. Referring to your back as “out” may also make you feel fragile or unstable, like exercise could do harm to your body. For this reason, the way we talk about pain and injury is incredibly important.
Taking care of your spine and relieving back pain.
So, if your back isn’t “out”, what can you do about it? Physiotherapy can help alleviate back pain by addressing the root cause of the issue. Your physiotherapist can work with you to identify the underlying cause of your pain, whether it be a muscle strain, disc issue, or other condition. They can then develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, which may include exercise to improve strength and flexibility, manual therapy to relieve tight muscles, and education around training and body mechanics.
It’s important to understand that back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, and that it can be effectively managed with the help of a physiotherapist. Don’t let the myth of a “bad back” hold you back. Take control of your pain and work with a physiotherapist to get back to living your life to the fullest!