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Back to Basics

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Despite the fact that back pain is so common—one in three Canadians will experience at least one bout over the course of a lifetime—many of us, doctors included, hold outdated beliefs about how to manage it. 

For one thing, the most common type of back pain isn’t caused by any detectable damage or abnormality. And in all but certain sets of less common, well-defined circumstances, an x-ray or MRI won’t offer any useful information.

What’s more, while your natural instinct when your back hurts is to take to your bed until the pain goes away, prolonged rest actually slows recovery.

So what should you do if you develop nagging lower back pain, or an aching back plus jolts of shooting pain down your buttock? Getting the right advice is the first step.

For more information, read my Good Times story, and check out the resources below.

A big thank-you to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise: 

  • Brenna Bath, PhD, who is now acting director and associate professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
  • Dr. Raj Rampersaud, a spine surgeon at the University Health Network, and provincial clinical lead for low back pain with Health Quality Ontario. Dr. Rampersaud is also an associate professor of orthopaedics in the University of Toronto’s department of surgery, and a clinician scientist at the Krembil Research Institute.
  • Dr. Catherine Trask, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health, and associate professor with the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. 
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Image by Daniel Reche, courtesy of Pixabay.

Resources

Back Care Canada

Health Quality Ontario (search for ‘low back pain’, then select ‘patient guide’.)

Inter-professional Spine Assessment and Education Clinics

Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative