Spine Docs Are Sharing The 1 Thing They’d Never Do If

Back pain is one of the most common complaints among adults, with up to 80% of people experiencing it at some point in their lives. As a leading cause of disability worldwide, back pain can range from a minor inconvenience to a debilitating condition. It’s no wonder that people seek advice on how to manage or avoid back pain. But what about the experts? Spine specialists, also known as spine doctors or orthopedic surgeons, spend their careers understanding the intricacies of the spine and back pain. So, when it comes to maintaining a healthy back, their advice carries significant weight. We asked spine docs to share the one thing they’d never do if they already had back pain, and their responses make so much sense.

Avoiding Ignoring the Pain

One of the most common responses from spine doctors is the importance of not ignoring back pain. Dr. Lisa O’Connor, an orthopedic spine surgeon, explains, “Ignoring back pain can lead to complications and make it worse. Pain is your body’s way of signaling that something is wrong. If you disregard it, you could be overlooking a serious condition.” Ignoring pain can lead to a domino effect, where small issues turn into more significant problems. If left unchecked, these problems might require surgical intervention, which could have been avoided with early diagnosis and treatment.

Steering Clear of Self-Diagnosis and Self-Treatment

Another common piece of advice from spine doctors is to avoid self-diagnosis and self-treatment. “It’s tempting to Google your symptoms and try to treat them yourself,” says Dr. James Meyer, a neurosurgeon specializing in spinal disorders. “But this can be dangerous. Without a proper diagnosis, you could be treating the wrong condition or using inappropriate methods, which could make things worse.”

Instead, experts recommend seeking professional help when back pain persists. A proper diagnosis is key to effective treatment. Spine doctors use a variety of tools, such as physical exams, imaging tests, and patient history, to determine the root cause of back pain. Without these tools, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the cause of pain accurately.

Avoiding Prolonged Inactivity

Spine doctors agree that staying sedentary for extended periods can exacerbate back pain. Dr. Angela Walker, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, explains, “Our bodies are designed to move. Prolonged inactivity can lead to muscle stiffness, reduced flexibility, and weakened muscles, all of which contribute to back pain.” Whether it’s a sedentary job or a desire to rest, avoiding movement can be detrimental in the long run.

The key is to find a balance. Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, can help maintain flexibility and strengthen the muscles supporting the spine. Dr. Walker suggests taking short breaks to stretch and move during the day, especially for those with desk jobs.

Avoiding Improper Lifting Techniques

Improper lifting techniques are a common cause of back pain and injury. Dr. Steven Clark, an orthopedic spine surgeon, emphasizes the importance of proper lifting techniques. “Whether you’re lifting heavy objects at work or carrying groceries at home, improper lifting can lead to muscle strains, herniated discs, or other spinal injuries,” he says.

To lift properly, spine doctors recommend bending at the knees, keeping the back straight, and using the legs to lift. This technique reduces strain on the spine and minimizes the risk of injury. Additionally, they suggest avoiding twisting or jerking movements while lifting and keeping objects close to the body.

Steering Clear of Smoking

Smoking is known to have a detrimental effect on overall health, and it’s no different when it comes to back pain. Spine doctors point out that smoking reduces blood flow to the spine, leading to decreased nutrient delivery and slower healing. Dr. Emily Carter, a spine specialist, explains, “Smoking can weaken spinal discs and bones, increasing the risk of herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and other spinal conditions. If you have back pain, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your spine.”

Beyond the direct impact on the spine, smoking can also increase inflammation throughout the body, potentially contributing to chronic pain. Therefore, spine doctors encourage patients to seek smoking cessation support to improve not only their spinal health but also their overall well-being.

Avoiding Excessive Weight Gain

Maintaining a healthy weight is another crucial factor in managing back pain. Excessive weight gain places additional stress on the spine, leading to increased wear and tear. Dr. Kevin Harris, an orthopedic spine surgeon, explains, “Every extra pound adds stress to the spine. If you’re carrying excess weight, especially around the midsection, it can lead to poor posture, muscle imbalances, and increased risk of back pain.”

Spine doctors recommend a balanced diet and regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. This not only reduces stress on the spine but also contributes to overall health. Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling, and walking, are great options for those with back pain.


Spine doctors are the experts in back pain and spinal health, and their advice carries significant value. The one thing they would never do if they already had back pain is to ignore it. Ignoring back pain can lead to complications and more serious conditions down the road. Instead, they advocate for seeking professional help, avoiding self-diagnosis, and staying active with proper lifting techniques.

Additionally, they highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and using correct lifting techniques to prevent further damage to the spine. Following this expert advice can help manage existing back pain and reduce the risk of future issues, leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle. If you have back pain, remember that you’re not alone—seek help and take proactive steps to improve your spinal health.

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