1. Move your back, ease the pain

    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.

  2. Deadly faith

    I'm always puzzled by the millions of people who take dangerous meds that barely work in the first place -- but now I'm starting to see why: They have no idea what they're in for.

    A new survey finds that 40 percent of Americans believe the FDA only gives the OK to "extremely effective" meds -- and 25 percent believe FDA-approved drugs don't have serious side effects.

    Even the FDA will tell you that's not the case.

    Drugs don't have to be safe to win approval: Meds that win passage often have severe and terrifying side effects, up to and including death itself. And they don't even have to be especially effective, either: Some meds work for less than half of the people who take them... yet get approved anyway.

    Just look at all the studies on everything from painkillers to antidepressants in which the drugs barely beat placebos.

    So the real secret to drug approval isn't in safety or even effectiveness -- it's in passing the FDA's nebulous and industry-friendly "risk vs. benefits" calculation.

    Sounds like some delicate balancing act, right?

    In reality, it's about as delicate as a hippo playing seesaw with a mouse. I don't think I need to tell you which one of those animals represents "risk" -- and in many cases, meds win approval before all those risks are even known.

    The survey also finds that warning labels might help people reconsider meds... sort of.

    In one case, when given a choice between two fictional heartburn meds, patients reflexively chose the one they believed to be newer. But when given a warning that new drugs might carry more serious risks that aren't yet known, the majority switched to the older one.

    In another, participants choosing between two cholesterol meds reconsidered when told one contained a warning that said "It is not known whether it will help patients feel better or live longer."

    But out in the real world, patients rarely compare meds they way they do spaghetti sauce. In most cases, the doctor prescribes and the patient complies -- and that's why millions of people take drugs they barely understand for conditions they might not even have... like cholesterol and heartburn.

    You should always read the warnings, of course -- but before you even get a prescription bottle in your hand, you need to ask your doctor a series of questions.

    Keep reading for more.

  3. Painkillers up miscarriage risk

    You wouldn't dream of pumping a newborn full of powerful painkillers like ibuprofen -- yet nearly a fifth of all pregnant women take these meds during pregnancy... and it's killing their unborn children.
  4. Deadly warning over common meds

    Pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to help you... not hurt you. Yet every time I turn around, there's ANOTHER report about ANOTHER way these meds can kill you. Here's the latest.
  5. Feds light controversy over medical marijuana

    The U.S. Department of Justice has finally responded to a 2002 petition to reclassify marijuana as a medical treatment.
  6. The dark truth behind milk

    It might seem like there's nothing more natural than a kid with a glass of milk -- but what's in that glass could be anything but natural.
  7. Avoid the "new" aspirin

    The one-time wonder drug -- Bayer even uses "" to promote its nonsensical aspirin myths -- has fallen on hard times as Americans turn to more powerful painkillers.
  8. The painkiller deception

    I know plenty of people with arthritis who are left wondering why even the most powerful drugs never quite do the trick. So they take more – and higher doses… all the while still fighting pain and getting no better.
  9. Stay young by fighting pain

    The quickest route to old age is along the express lanes of chronic pain.
  10. Pain for the painkillers

    Finally, folks in the mainstream are ready to talk common sense when it comes to painkillers.
  11. Beating back pain without painkillers

    Many people fighting back pain are afraid of exercise, especially folks who have to deal with that persistent lower back pain.
  12. Painkillers every day? No way!

    Researchers found that regular users of ibuprofen, naproxen and other painkillers were actually more likely to come down with dementia.
  13. Banning popular painkillers proving to be an ugly process

    An FDA panel recently recommended that the painkillers Darvon and Darvocet be pulled from the market. And it's about time.

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