Low back pain is one of the top reasons that Americans see their doctor. Most Americans, moreover, experience back pain at one time during their life. Many back related injuries happen at work. But, you can change that. There are many things you can do to lower your chances of getting back pain.

I. Back to Basics
Step 1: What is low back pain?
Step 2: Know your back anatomy
Step 3: Causes of low back pain
Step 4: Are you at risk?
II. First Steps
Step 5: What to do when pain begins
Step 6: Seeing your doctor
Step 7: What tests might be ordered?
Step 8: When is low back pain a serious sign?
III. Taking Control: Treatment and Prevention
Step 9: Exercise and physical therapy
Step 10: Change your work habits
Step 11: Medications
Step 12: Other treatments

Learn More

Exercise: Too much, too little, just right

Drug treatment - NSAIDs

Drug treatment - COX-2 inhibitors

Drug treatment - muscle relaxants

Drug treatment - narcotics

Pain relief - acupuncture

Pain relief - chiropractic therapy

Pain relief - massage

Pain relief - osteopathy

Reducing stress may be a help

What is sciatica?

When is surgery necessary?

Helpful Handouts

Exercises to maintain back health

How to lift and bend

How to prevent low back pain

Preparing for your doctor visit


Acupuncture. NIH Consens Statement. 1997;15(5):1-34.

Cherkin, DC, Eisenberg D, Sherman KJ, et al. Randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and self-care education for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(8):1081-8.

Eisenberg DM, Post DE, David RB, et al. Addition of choice of complementary therapies to usual care for acute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Spine. 2007;32(2):151-8.

Raty HP, Kujala UMm Videman T. Lifetime musculoskeletal symptoms and injuries among former elite male athletes. Int J Sports Med. 1997;18(8):625-32.

Tropiano P, Huang RC, Girardi FP, et al. Lumbar total disc replacement. Seven to eleven-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005;87(3):490-6.

Walach H, Guthlin C, Konig M. Efficacy of massage therapy in chronic pain: a pragmatic randomized trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9(6):837-46.


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Review Date: 4/6/2007

Reviewed By: Benjamin D. Roye, MD, MPH, Orthopaedic Surgery, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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