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Do your thoughts impact your back pain?

Positive thinking to improve your back pain?

Low back pain is a very common condition, 80% of the population experiencing it at some point in their life. It can be very disabling, impacting on many areas of your life and can become all consuming, leading to anxiety and depression. However, it does not need to be like this and harbouring negative thoughts may potentially increase your back pain!

After a back injury in my early twenties, I know only too well how that feels, after being told that I had early degenerative changes in my spine. For me, an osteopath helped me to believe I would recover and continue to lead a normal life.

What causes low back pain?

We all know that back pain can be caused by underlying serious pathology, inflammatory disease, disc issues, trapped nerves etc and our team of Osteopaths are all trained to recognise the symptoms and know when to refer you on.

However, a specific cause for back pain is found in less than 10% of cases. This type of pain is classed as non-specific and most likely caused by a combination of issues.

Degenerative changes is a normal ageing process

Much research has been undertaken on the causes of back pain and some of the results are surprising. Whilst degenerative changes in the spine are common in people with back pain, it was found that a high-proportion of individuals with no pain also had degenerative changes.

The conclusion was that degeneration is a normal ageing process and not associated with pain. When we experience pain it is more likely that the spine has become sensitive rather than been damaged.

So what can influence our back pain?

We do know there are factors that will impact on pain, such as stress, poor sleep, inactivity and subsequent weakness, low mood, smoking and being overweight. But what about negative thoughts?

It is now thought that those people who think they have damaged their spine and believe it will never improve, are much more likely to experience more pain and disability.

Clarifying the Myths

  • Ongoing back pain is rarely life-threatening and is not a sign that you have damaged your spine
  • Back pain is not caused by ageing
  • Bending and lifting does not wear your back out
  • You are not damaging your back if you feel pain on movement
  • If your back flares up, you are not causing damage
  • Having a poor posture does not damage your spine or cause back pain
  • There are often red herrings revealed on scans and these rarely show the cause of back pain.

More advice on what to do if you do have back pain can be found here.

So if you do suffer back pain, try not to fall into the pattern of pain avoidence from incorrect beliefs as you might just be more likely to cause a flare-up. The best tactic is to keep active and thus build strength to carry on leading the life you would choose.

Remember our team of Osteopaths are always happy to provide more help and support.