About 80% of Americans have back pain at some time in their lives. It's one of the main reasons people go to the doctor, and it's second only to upper respiratory infections as the reason people call in sick to work. Fortunately, back pain usually goes away within a few days. But when it hurts to move, even that is too long.
Do you know what you can do at home and work to prevent back pain? What if you've already hurt your back? Which treatments might help?
We gathered some of your most common back pain questions and took them to WebMD Chief Medical Editor Michael Smith, MD.
Click on the links below to see how Dr. Smith answered your questions about back pain prevention and treatment.
Deon S. wants to know how to relieve pain from standing long hours.
Alex C. asks, "When should I go to the doctor about back pain?"
Tim P. wonders if a back brace really helps with heavy lifting.
Renee W. wakes up with back pain that goes away during the day. Dr. Smith says it might be her mattress.
Luis F. feels pain after lifting weights. Dr. Smith explains how exercising incorrectly can hurt.
Candice G. asks how to avoid the aches of working in the garden.
Georgiana F. asks if massage is good for back pain.
Ewan C. wonders if poor posture played a role in his back pain.
Marie H. asks how to lift and carry an infant without causing back pain.
Dr. Smith gives Nicole C. tips for sitting properly at a desk to avoid pain.
Nikki R. seeks help in choosing over-the-counter pain relievers.
Joseph L. has an achy neck and shoulders. Dr. Smith offers simple exercises to relieve tension.
Cheisa R. wants to know, is it OK to keep working if your back hurts?
Stanley B. asks what the leading cause of back pain is.
Jessica P. wants ways to strengthen her core and prevent back pain.
Alex C. wants to know if yoga is a good idea when your back hurts.
Cherise R. asks, which is better for back pain: resting in bed or staying active?
Andrew N. wants to know how common back pain is.
Dr. Smith answers Maryanne G.'s question: Heat or ice for an aching back?
Melinda V. is curious about whether acupuncture relives back pain.