“Seven myths of back pain cost millions”


Irish times article-2The Sunday Times (Irish Edition) published an interesting article last Sunday highlighting the cost of low pain on the Irish economy and how many sufferers (and GPs) are unaware on what action should be taken to address this issue.

The article states that the problem is partially due to the fact that there are no official guidelines in place for early management of the condition, which may explain the widespread misconceptions among Irish people about the causes and treatment of low back pain.

The seven myths are:

  1. If you have a slipped disc (herniated/ruptured disc) you must have surgery.
  2. Radiographs (X-rays) and newer imaging tests (CT and MRI) can always identify the cause of pain.
  3. If your back hurts, you should take it easy until the pain goes away.
  4. Most pain is caused by injuries or heavy lifting.
  5. Back pain is usually disabling.
  6. Everyone with back pain should have a spine radiograph (X-ray).
  7. Bed rest is the mainstay of therapy.

The article refers to the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the UK which provide evidence based advice for healthcare professionals on the most effective  treatment methods for their patients.  For low back pain sufferers (more than 6 weeks but less than 12 months in duration) these include drug treatment to manage pain AND a choice of physical treatments (exercise and manual therapy including spinal manipulation).

The guide lines go on to specify that manipulation should be performed by chiropractors and osteopaths, as well as by doctors and physiotherapists who have undergone specialist postgraduate training in manipulation.

For more information on the recommended early management of low back pain please check



The Sunday Times  22.05.2016

“The Myths of Low Back Pain” Ihlebaek and Eriksen. SPINE Vol 29, No 16, pp 1818-1822.