Back Pain: Fallacies, Fears and Facts

Back pain is something that most people have in common. Around 80% of people will experience at least one episode of debilitating back pain at some point in their lives. For most, this will be a relatively short and miserable time, after which, things quickly get back to normal and life goes on as before. However, for around 15% of back pain sufferers, the story doesn’t have such a happy ending. This group of people go on to experience back pain for
months or even years.

The reasons why some individuals suffer from persistent and recurrent back pain aren’t fully understood. For many years, medical researchers have been looking for the best back pain diagnostic and treatment options. This search has mainly been based upon identifying the physical causes of back pain. However, this isn’t as straightforward as some had hoped. For example, research has shown that the presence of joint damage, usually attributed to “wear
& tear”, is a poor predictor of persistent back pain. Similarly, the presence of disc damage and disc bulges doesn’t mean that back pain will be inevitable. These facts are unfortunately not always well communicated to the majority of people with persistent back pain. Instead they develop a belief that their backs are structurally damaged and are vulnerable to further injury and pain. These beliefs make people fearful and stressed and as a consequence they
adopt unhelpful behaviours and strategies to deal with their pain. These may include avoiding certain movements or activities (known as “fear avoidance”), and becoming hyper vigilant as regards their painful back.

Over the past decade there has been a big change in the way that we understand persistent pain. It has become clear that there is rarely a single physical cause and it has also become apparent that simply looking for one “magic cure” is the stuff of fantasy. Instead, current research tells us that persistent pain is perpetuated by numerous factors, which all need to be addressed, if the pain is to be successfully managed.

If you would like more information about the management of back pain, then come along to the second of our free Health & Well-being workshops. This will be held at 7pm on Tuesday 26th May at the Earthbeat Centre. Whilst these workshops are free, places are limited, so please reserve your place by emailing us at You can also find out more about our series of free workshops and register to attend, here:…