There are ways to prevent back pain in the first place

May 13 2011
Persistent back or neck pain can land some individuals on the surgeon's table. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid that outcome, if Americans at risk take precautions in advance.

Health practitioners generally recommend that early onset back pain, whether it stems from an injury or degenerative disc disease, should be treated conservatively. That means using physical therapy, back exercises, hot or cold compresses, or anti-inflammatory medications. In same cases, these therapies work for years to effectively control back pain symptoms.

Of course, the best approach is to avoid spine problems in the first place. While it's not always possible, there are steps that can be taken in early life to stave off back pain or significantly delay its onset.

Physical activity is key to prevention. Numerous studies have linked sedentary lifestyles to back and neck pain, either via excess weight or pressure on the spine. Obesity is known to increase loads on the skeleton and weaken core muscles that support it. Over time, this may result in a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, both of which may leave individuals with excruciating pain.

Yet, there are people out there who are active and slim, but they still complain of back or neck pain, tension and discomfort. Diana Post, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently wrote on the website of that this may be due to the mattress one sleeps on.

Post said that while there isn't a universal type that may help relieve discomfort in back pain sufferers, medium-firmness mattresses may work best, according to a recent study. She also suggested placing a plywood board under one's current mattress, or placing it on the floor to increase its firmness.