Back Pain: 5 Things You Should Know

We’ve all been there: You bend over to pick something up feel that unmistakable twinge. You’ve thrown your back out. Back pain affects 70 to 85 percent of us at some point during our lives, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

Because this malady is such a fact of life, it’s important to know what causes it — and when it’s serious enough to see a doctor. Here are five things you should know about back pain.

Take it easy

Most of the time, back pain goes away on its own, especially if you can pinpoint its origin (a sudden, awkward movement, heavy lifting or a strained ligament). Adhering to a regular schedule of over-the-counter pain reliever is a good first step. Some bed rest can help, but more than two days does more harm than good. It’s important to get moving.

See a doctor

If you don’t see improvement within 72 hours, call your doctor. Back pain can be a symptom of serious conditions, including ruptured discs, sciatica or arthritis. In addition to the 72-hour guideline, the Mayo Clinic also recommends that you see your doctor if your back pain:


Stress manifests itself physically, so it’s important to develop healthy coping skills. recommends such stress reduction techniques as writing in a journal, participating in hobbies and developing a regular exercise routine. You also probably deserve a massage.


If you experience chronic back pain, it’s time to examine your office setup and your sleeping environment. Does your desk chair support your lower back? The Occupational Safety & Health Administration offers tips for setting up a healthy work station at And don’t forget to consider your sleeping habits; the Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping positions that prevent back pain in this slideshow: You might want to place a pillow underneath or between your knees.


By staying active, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, and managing your stress, you can prevent many cases of back pain. Also, make sure to sleep on a mattress of medium firmness and to follow proper lifting techniques. Use your legs, not your back.

By giving yourself the care you deserve, you can avoid back pain and keep moving, living a full, active life.

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