Last updated: Aug 08, 2008
1. True or false: Doctors can almost always identify the cause of back pain.


False

According to the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians, it is impossible to say precisely why a person's back hurts in more than 85% of cases. So it's important to be patient but persistent in searching for the source of your pain. Read more about the different causes of low back pain.

2. Sixty percent of low back pain will typically go away in as little as:

One week

Most low back pain is short-lived. Overall, 60% of low back pain goes away within one week; 90% goes away within six weeks; up to 95% goes away within 12 weeks; and more than 98% is gone within one year. Find out how to get the right treatment for your back pain.

3. True or false: The best way to treat back pain is to rest until you feel better.

False

Your back actually needs exercise to heal. Movement brings fluid and nutrition to your disks to help them repair themselves. A day or two of rest is fine, but when you feel ready, getting up and about will help you heal. Exercise can include careful stretching, mild activity such as walking, and, as the pain improves, progressive stretching routines such as yoga.

4. Specialists who treat back pain include:

All of the above

Osteopathic physicians, physiatrists, and surgeons deal with the back, but there are other health-care practitioners, like chiropractors, who also treat low back pain. Find out which specialist is best for your condition.

5. True or false: Surgery is usually the best way to cure chronic back pain.

False

Surgery on the back is complicated, carries many risks, and is only successful for specific conditions where an actual cause can be identified. Often more conservative treatments such as physical therapy are much better at bringing pain relief. Check out Health.com's guide to making the right decision about back surgery.