Many people throughout their lives have encountered back pain. In fact, as many as two-thirds of adults will be affected by back pain at some point in their lives. Anyone that has had to deal with back pain knows how difficult it can be. However, back pain comes with difficulty in determining what treatment options are best, what will happen if I can’t work, and what can I do to make sure this back pain doesn’t happen again.
When people experience back pain, they have a lot of questions. Having the correct information can be a powerful tool for your recovery. Below is a quick quiz where you can test your knowledge and maybe help you to better understand back pain.
Answer: False – Degenerative changes are common but not always found on imaging. However, people with absolutely no pain can also have degenerative changes on imaging.1
Answer: B – 33% Low back pain is the leading cause of work injuries that result in work disability. As much as 17% of those with a work-related back injury will miss between 1-6 months of work.6
Answer: False – Passive approaches (rest and medication) are linked with worsening disability. Research shows that physical therapy and exercise are associated with lower levels of disability and less reliance on formal health care.2
Answer: True – Despite what most people think, most back pain comes from non-specific low back pain. Research shows treating symptom behavior rather than a specific tissue can help improve overall outcomes.2
Answer: A – Exercise and education are effective treatments for low back pain and are included in your physical therapy plan of care. – Although a back brace and shoe insoles may be appropriate, you should talk to your physical therapist about these interventions.5
Answer: D – Studies have found that up to 52% of people aged 30-39 who have no back pain symptoms have findings of disc degeneration. These changes are likely related to the normal aging process rather than a pathologic process.1
Answer: D – Research has found that the rate of complete resolution of disc herniation is 43% with conservative treatment.3
If you are still unsure if physical therapy is right for you, reach out to our team at Athletico Physical Therapy for a free assessment. A physical therapist can assess your concerns to determine if physical therapy may be a good option for you and provide treatment recommendations. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Brinjikji, W., Luetmer, P. H., Comstock, B., Bresnahan, B. W., Chen, L. E., Deyo, R. A., Halabi, S., Turner, J. A., Avins, A. L., James, K., Wald, J. T., Kallmes, D. F., & Jarvik, J. G. (2015). Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. AJNR. American journal of neuroradiology, 36(4), 811–816. https://doi.org/10.3174/ajnr.A4173
2. Buchbinder, R., van Tulder, M., Öberg, B., Costa, L. M., Woolf, A., Schoene, M., Croft, P., & Lancet Low Back Pain Series Working Group (2018). Low back pain: a call for action. Lancet (London, England), 391(10137), 2384–2388. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30488-4
3. Chiu, C. C., Chuang, T. Y., Chang, K. H., Wu, C. H., Lin, P. W., & Hsu, W. Y. (2015). The probability of spontaneous regression of lumbar herniated disc: a systematic review. Clinical rehabilitation, 29(2), 184–195. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269215514540919
4. Fatoye, F., Gebrye, T., & Odeyemi, I. (2019). Real-world incidence and prevalence of low back pain using routinely collected data. Rheumatology international, 39(4), 619–626. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-019-04273-0
5. Foster, N. E., Anema, J. R., Cherkin, D., Chou, R., Cohen, S. P., Gross, D. P., Ferreira, P. H., Fritz, J. M., Koes, B. W., Peul, W., Turner, J. A., Maher, C. G., & Lancet Low Back Pain Series Working Group (2018). Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. Lancet (London, England), 391(10137), 2368–2383. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30489-6
6. Shraim, M., Cifuentes, M., Willetts, J. L., Marucci-Wellman, H. R., & Pransky, G. (2015). Length of Disability and Medical Costs in Low Back Pain: Do State Workers’ Compensation Policies Make a Difference?. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 57(12), 1275–1283. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000000593