There are many things you can do to help your back that your doctor may or may not have mentioned to you. We realize that you have probably already educated yourself about the basics of back care, but the following points in particular bear repeating.
- Get an accurate clinical diagnosis: A clinical diagnosis should rule out the possibility of rare but serious conditions (such as a tumor), categorize your condition, and determine if there are neurological deficits (nerve damage). It is based on a combination of the doctor's findings on your diagnostic tests, your physical exam and symptoms, and is essential to determine appropriate treatment options for your back pain or neck pain. See Getting an Accurate Back Pain Diagnosis.
- To help you understand your diagnosis, it may be useful to read What's a Herniated Disc, Pinched Nerve, Bulging Disc...?
- Don't smoke: People who smoke are more likely to have lower back pain and over 80% more likely to develop degenerative disc disease than non-smokers. Zyban is one medication available to help quit smoking. Read more at Does Smoking Cause Low Back Pain? and Anti-Smoking Medications.
- Exercise properly: Exercise provides the double-benefit of helping your back heal more quickly and helping prevent a recurrence of the back pain. A focused exercise program is a critical part of almost any back pain treatment, and should include a combination of stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic exercise. Exercise is important to continue even after you feel better to prevent future bouts of back pain. Read more with Physical Therapy Benefits For Back Pain.
- Find the right spine specialist: Many people who suffer from ongoing back pain need to visit a spine specialist. Sometimes it will take a process of trial and error and seeing a number of health care professionals before finding back pain relief and a treatment program that works for you. Also, try to be patient, as treating back pain is often more an art than a science and it may take a while to find the most helpful treatment. Read more at Specialists Who Treat Back Pain.
- Proactively manage your situation: We encourage you to proactively manage treatment for your back pain. This includes carefully preparing for your doctor visits, so that they are as productive and helpful as possible, and educating yourself with reliable information so you can ask the doctor the most useful questions. Read more with Preparing to Meet with a Spine Surgeon or Spine Specialist.