Myth-busting low back pain. #physiotalk 8th July

The next #physiotalk tweet chat will be hosted on Monday 8th July at 8.30pm BST and led by physiotherapy student @_lewadam, who is currently researching as part of his dissertation project, the beliefs and perceptions of bending and lifting in the presence of low back pain.


Following on from the widely engaging chat regarding misinformation in physiotherapy, it seems reasonable to follow this up and look more closely at myths and misconceptions surrounding the global burden of low back pain (LBP).

Low back pain costs the UK economy more than £13 billion per year, contributing to 31 million working days being lost in 2016 (Office for National Statistics, 2016). In the NHS alone, back pain accounts for 40% of sickness absence placing further pressure upon stretched healthcare workforces (NHS Employers, 2014).

A recent systematic review uncovered that 79 websites (government, hospitals, universities, professional associations, healthcare organisations) from 6-english speaking countries provide mostly inaccurate information about LBP management which does not reflect current evidence (Ferreira et al. 2019). This is particularly concerning as the internet has rapidly become an easily accessible source for patients to engage with health information so that they can supplement the information provided by their healthcare professional’s in order to self-manage their condition.

Despite the very useful and informative  ‘Back Pain Myth Busters’ guide by the CSP, there still seems to be a divide amongst the beliefs of LBP held within society. Given its socioeconomic burden, healthcare professionals must strive to provide consistent, evidence-based information to patient’s in order to counteract conflicting, and potentially fear-mongering messages influencing poor prognosis (Nolan et al. 2018). Anecdotal evidence can indeed evolve via the media or internet however, the information and advice patients receive from healthcare professionals influences their beliefs for years to come (Darlow et al. 2013).

Discussions surrounding the treatment and management of LBP are commonplace on social media and more often than not generate thought-provoking conversations. Unfortunately, however, it is also not uncommon to stumble across misconceptions and myths that do not reflect contemporary evidence surrounding LBP.

Thus, wouldn’t it be great to discuss and try to dispel such myths on a Monday evening?!

Questions to consider.

  • What do you consider to be the major myths associated with LBP?
  • How do you approach re-educating patients about LBP?
  • What do you consider the core pillars of managing patients with non-specific LBP?
  • Are manual handling recommendations strictly adhered to in your place of work, is this reflected in your advice to patients?
  • How do you approach conversations with colleagues who may behold ‘outdated’ approaches to the treatment/management of non-specific LBP.



Darlow, B., Dowell, A., Baxter, G., Mathieson, F., Perry, M. and Dean, S. (2013) The enduring impact of what clinicians say to people with low back pain. Annals of Family Medicine, 11 (6), pp. 527-534.

Ferreira, G., Traeger, A., Machado, G., O’Keefe, M. and Maher, C. (2019) Credibility, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of internet-based information about low back pain: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21 (5), pp. 1-9.

NHS Employers. (2014) Back in work introduction and key messages: Part one of the back in work pack [Internet]. Available from:

Nolan, D., O’Sullivan, K., Stephenson, J., O’Sullivan, P. and Luckock, M. (2018) What do physiotherapists and manual handling advisors consider safest lifting posture, and do back beliefs influence their choice? Musculoskeletal Science and Practice,33 (1), pp. 35-40.

Office for National Statistics. (2016) Full report: Sickness absence in the labour market [Internet]. Available from:



If you missed the chat you can catch up with the transcript here

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