Nothing in health is more poorly understood by the community than back pain. It is incredibly common, and you along with most people will likely experience it at some point in your life. You will likely have a different story about your back to many others, you’ve been told a variety of things and you probably know someone that has never fully recovered – or had some kind of magical recovery (usually from eating a magic herb!).

Low back pain is definitely too complex to resolve in one short blog – but here are some of the most misunderstood points – and the scientific research associated with them:

1.  Most episodes of low back pain improve substantially within 6 weeks. (1)

2.  For nearly all people presenting with low back pain, the specific source of pain CANNOT be identified. (1)

3.  In the spine, “abnormalities” are normal. In a recent study of 350 air force cadets (aged 18-22, with NO pain) 77% were found to have some degree of spinal “abnormality” such as disk bulges or disk narrowing. (2)

4.  There is no scientific evidence that heavy school bags cause back pain in kids. (3)

5.  Avoidance of activities (just in case they hurt) can lead to long-term pain. (1)

6.  There is no “one and done” solution for back pain, and expecting to find a magic cure will lead to worse outcomes. You can’t buy a quick fix. (4)

The internet, social media and day-time TV are full of unreliable, unproven rubbish when it comes to health advice. Fixing your back pain is a process you engage in, not a product you buy. Whether or not you’re in pain, you have a strong spine (and body) that is capable of incredible things.

If you’re confused by all the myths about back pain, or not sure you’re getting the right information about how to look after your back, then reach out to our team.  We are more than happy to provide a no-obligation free assessment to help you get the information and support you need to get your back feeling great.  This is available to you from any of our physio teams across our 4 locations in Woolgoolga, Moonee, Toormina and Urunga.

Julian White




(1) Hartvigsen, J., Hancock, M. J., Kongsted, A., Louw, Q., Ferreira, M. L., Genevay, S., … & Smeets, R. J. (2018). What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. The Lancet, 391(10137), 2356-2367.

(2) Romeo, V., Covello, M., Salvatore, E., Parente, C. A., Abbenante, D., Biselli, R., … & Cangiano, A. (2018). High Prevalence of Spinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Asymptomatic Young Adults (18-22 Yrs) Candidate to Air Force Flight. Spine.

(3) Yamato, T. P., Maher, C. G., Traeger, A. C., Wiliams, C. M., & Kamper, S. J. (2018). Do schoolbags cause back pain in children and adolescents? A systematic review. Br J Sports Med, 52(19), 1241-1245.

(4) Foster, N. E., Anema, J. R., Cherkin, D., Chou, R., Cohen, S. P., Gross, D. P., … & Turner, J. A. (2018). Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions. The Lancet, 391(10137), 2368-2383. 

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