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5 facts about back pain

Back pain is common—in fact, 1 in 4 American adults has experienced back pain in the past three months. So it’s a good idea to know some facts about this common condition.


1. You probably won’t need imaging tests, like x-rays or MRIs. Most people don’t need them to recover from back pain.

2. You shouldn’t rest a sore back for more than a few days. Staying out of bed and walking a little may actually speed your recovery.

3. Back pain disrupts daily lives. It’s a leading cause of missed workdays.

4. Self-care may help. Doctors often suggest over-the-counter pain relievers, heating pads or ice packs.

5. Smoking contributes to back pain. It reduces circulation to the spine.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Physical Therapy Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Although back pain often eases on its own, you may need to see a doctor in some cases. Take this assessment to help you decide when to do so.

Reviewed 6/2/2023

Sources "Low Back Pain."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Low Back Pain Fact Sheet."



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