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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.
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. "That Pain in Your Back Could Be Linked to Your Feet." https://www.foothealthfacts.org/article/that-pain-in-your-back-could-be-linked-to-your-fee.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Back Pain." https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Back Pain." https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/back-pain.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Low Back Pain." https://www.ninds.nih.gov/sites/default/files/migrate-documents/low_back_pain_20-ns-5161_march_2020_508c.pdf.
- National Library of Medicine. "Back Pain." https://medlineplus.gov/backpain.html.
- North American Spine Society. "9 for Spine" (video). https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Pages/Default.
- North American Spine Society. "Chronic Low Back Pain." https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Conditions/Low-Back-Pain/Chronic-Low-Back-Pain.
- North American Spine Society. "How to Manage an Acute Back or Neck Pain Episode." https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Treatments/Nonsurgical-Treatments/How-to-Manage-an-Acute-Back-or-Neck-Pain-Episode.