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Back pain: Myth or fact?
Back pain isn't just something that happens as you get older. There's usually a cause-and ways to prevent (or treat) it. Test your back IQ with this quiz.
Myth or fact: Bed rest is the best cure for back pain.
Myth. Bed rest can actually make a sore back worse if you linger too long. Too much inactivity can make you stiff and weak-and more uncomfortable. That's why doctors generally advise against bed rest for more than 48 hours.
Myth or fact: Exercise can't help prevent back pain.
Myth. Getting moderate exercise every day strengthens your muscles and is one of the best things you can do to prevent a sore back. Ask your doctor which exercises are the best match for your back. Some back-friendly exercises include walking, swimming and lifting light weights.
Myth or fact: Quitting smoking can be good for back pain.
Fact. People who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of back pain, possibly because smoking may keep disks in the spine from getting enough nutrients. A smoker's cough can also trigger back pain. And smoking can slow healing, so back pain may last longer.
Myth or fact: If I have back pain, chances are I'll need surgery.
Myth. Not at all. Most people with back pain get better either without treatment or with conservative treatments-such as pain medicine and physical therapy. Surgery should only be considered when other treatments don't help.
Myth or fact: Some back pain needs immediate attention.
Fact. While back pain often goes away on its own, see your doctor right away if you also have trouble urinating; a fever; unintentional weight loss; or numbness, pain or weakness in your legs.
Back pain is a symptom of many different things. It's important to consult your doctor, who can diagnose you-and suggest treatment options.
Sources: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; North American Spine Society