In fact, guidelines from the American Pain Society say there’s little to no proven benefit for most advanced invasive interventions doctors frequently offer for back pain. You’ll have greater success if you treat your
mild to moderate pain very simply: Take drugstore analgesics, apply heat to the sore area, and don’t overexert yourself until the discomfort goes away. Stay mobile; weakening the muscles through disuse makes your back situation worse.
For chronic pain, exercise “is one of the few interventions shown by research to really make a difference,” Deyo says, so ask your doctor for a good routine. Do note that in rare cases back pain can indicate more serious trouble; see your doctor if you have symptoms like fever or a weakness in the leg, or if your discomfort doesn’t improve after several weeks.
Sidebar: Why You Want Your Doctor to Look 12 Years Old
For any medical procedure, the patient-doctor relationship is extremely important. So consider this: If you’re in the market for a new doctor, you might want an individual who’s recently completed medical school. For one thing, more newly minted physicians tend to be up on the latest research. A recent study, for example, found that they are more likely than their more experienced counterparts to follow the latest National Kidney Foundation guidelines when deciding who is a candidate for transplantation. Robin DiMatteo, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, says younger may be key for male physicians; her research suggests they communicate especially well with older women.