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How to Wreck Your Back

You may be setting yourself up for back pain. Find out how to stop it before it starts.

If All Else Fails

The experts interviewed for this story all told WebMD that most back pain should abate with in 48 hours with a nonprescription pain reliever. But in some cases, your pain could require urgent care.

You need immediate attention if you suffer any loss of bladder or bowel control with your back pain, Hisey says. This is associated with a disc that's pressing on nerves and the faster you relieve the pressure, the faster the function returns.

"Most back pain won't radiate below the waist," Shamie says. "If you feel pain in the thighs or knees, you likely have a disc herniation causing nerve compression." Seek medical attention to ensure there isn't more serious damage.

If your back pain keeps coming back, see a medical professional. You may have begun to rupture a disc or have another injury that could require treatment. "The older you are, the quicker you should get to a specialist," Shamie says.

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Reviewed on February 19, 2010

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