The last thing anyone with a sore back wants to do is move it around.
I know -- I've been there myself, and the natural reaction is to find a spot where you can sit as stiff as a board and move as little as possible.
The other natural reaction, of course, is a fistful of painkillers.
Don't give in to either reaction: There isn't a bad back on the planet that's been cured by painkillers, and a new study confirms that sitting tight can actually make the pain worse -- and even boost your risk of depression, too.
Researchers randomly assigned 109 back patients to either stay active through the pain or limit their activities as much as possible -- and if you're suffering from back pain you might want to get up for this one: Those who moved had quicker recoveries, less pain and less depression than those who limited their activity.
The researchers say a person who goes into statue mode when they feel back pain could be setting themselves up for the classic downward spiral: Since they're not moving, they feel more pain. When they feel more pain, they get depressed -- and since depressed people feel pain more, it can feel even worse than it really is.
Of course, anyone who's battled back pain -- and that's nearly everyone at some point -- knows there's no one-size-fits-all formula for treatment, but too many doctors stubbornly insist on giving everyone the same advice.
Along with a big jar of painkillers.
Now, another new study confirms that docs have it all wrong -- because patients given a more customized treatment plan get better results at a lower cost.
Researchers divided back pain patients into three categories based on their risk of long-term pain and disability, and assigned them to different levels of advice and/or therapy based on that risk.
A year later, these patients all had less pain and more improvements than a group that got the standard one-size-fits-all advice.
Sounds good -- but make sure your customized treatment plan isn't a choice between one bad mainstream option and another.
Despite what you've heard, you can beat the pain -- even extreme pain -- without meds or surgery. Acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care and more have all shown to help put back pain on the back burner.
And in many cases, time alone can heal those invisible wounds.
For more on natural back pain options, visit the Web site of the Health Sciences Institute and enter "back pain" into the "Find a Cure" box.
And don't forget to keep moving.