The Basics: Overview
One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to keep your back muscles strong. Follow these steps to help protect your back and prevent back pain:
- Do back-strengthening and stretching exercises at least 2 or 3 times a week.
- Stand straight and sit up straight.
- Avoid heavy lifting. If you do lift something heavy, bend your knees and keep your back straight. This way, your leg muscles will do most of the work.
- Stay active and eat a balanced diet.
- If you are overweight, lose weight so there will be less strain on your back.
To learn more about back pain, check out Handout on Health: Back Pain.
There are different types of back pain.
Back pain can be acute or chronic. It can feel like a sudden, sharp pain or a dull, constant ache.
Acute back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It’s often caused by an accident, a fall, or moving something that’s too heavy. Acute back pain usually gets better on its own, without any treatment. Find out when to call a doctor or nurse about back pain.
Chronic back pain that lasts for more than 3 months. It’s much less common than acute back pain. Most chronic back pain can be treated without surgery. Find out about ways to treat chronic back pain.
The Basics: Am I at Risk?
Who gets back pain?
Most people have back pain at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor or nurse. You are more likely to experience back pain as you get older.
Many people hurt their backs when they lift, push, or pull something that's too heavy – especially at work.
You may also be at risk for back pain if you:
- Have poor posture (don’t stand straight and sit up straight)
- Aren’t physically active
- Are overweight
- Fall or have an accident
- Have a health problem that can cause back pain (like arthritis or cancer)