The most common misdiagnoses haunting back pain sufferers

The only thing worse than back pain is prolonging it with incorrect misdiagnosis, yet this is a common reason why regular back pain progresses to Chronic Back Pain.

Too many people self-diagnose their pain or, even worse, make an internet diagnosis – they then become attached to the diagnosis.

They often fail to get a second opinion when treatment isn’t helping, and become resigned to their fate.

But it all starts with misdiagnosis, and the ‘big three’ misdiagnoses which mislead back pain sufferers are:


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Believing it’s a disc problem

Around seven out of 10 people, if put under an MRI, would show some kind of disc issue. Our bodies aren’t perfect. For example disc bulges are incredibly common yet don’t necessarily cause pain or discomfort.

Debilitating disc problems are less common than people think. People are too quick to believe it’s a disc. With proper analysis they often find it’s something completely different, such as gluteal tightness, nerve spasm, lower spine joint tightness or even stress.



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People often assume a shooting ‘nerve-like’ pain emanating from the back is sciatica – it’s a favourite of the ‘self-diagnosed’ – but nine times out of 10 sciatica is not the issue.

Problems which can masquerade as sciatica include lower back biomechanical issues, hip pain and even knee issues. None will improve while you wrongly mistake these complications for sciatica.


Stress fractures

Stress fractures can be debilitating and commonly impact sportspeople and those performing physical manual labour. But a funny thing happens to people who suffer from stress fractures – they then fall into the easy routine of blaming any other body issues on the stress fractures, even after it has healed. Meanwhile, they are missing other issues such as shoulder pain, knee problems or neck pain.

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Believing that a healed injury is still troubling you is a common trap. It’s almost always something else, even if it appears to be mimicking that old familiar pain of a previous injury.


Do you see a specialist for any of the above issues? What treatments have you tried? Tell us below.