Back pain is one of the most common painful conditions, affecting four in five Americans at some point in their lives. While the cause is rarely life-threatening, the pain and stiffness can be debilitating.
The good news is that a wide variety of options exist for managing persistent or recurrent back pain. The scientific evidence for different treatments is not always cut-and-dried, but there are things you can do to get the best results. Here are four things to keep in mind:
- Get the most accurate diagnosis possible of the type of back disorder you suffer from. An accurate diagnosis allows you to choose the treatment options appropriate for your specific back problem.
- Seek the advice of an experienced, certified, and well-recommended health professional who understands your type of back problem.
- Be an active participant in your care. Shared decision making in health care means fully understanding the risks and benefits of the various treatments you are considering for your particular problem and any alternative treatments available.
- Don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion if your clinician recommends an invasive, experimental, or very expensive treatment. Doctors generally welcome your full participation in health care decisions and should support your request for a second opinion if you feel hesitant about a particular option.
For more on healing an aching back, review Back Pain, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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