I'm recovering from my first episode of back pain, and I'm worried. I've heard that back pain always comes back. What can I do to try to prevent that?

Back pain does tend to recur. Once you've had low back pain, you have a 90% chance that it will come back someday. That's why it's important to learn ways to prevent future injury and flare-ups, and to know how to treat back pain as soon as it starts.

If your back pain comes back, rest your back immediately. Avoid anything that makes it feel worse. For the first two or three days, use cold packs to lessen the pain and swelling. After the symptoms are under control, try using heat treatments.

The most important part of preventing back problems is learning how to use your body to avoid injury. You may work with a physical or occupational therapist to help you learn ways to stretch and strengthen your muscles. Therapists can also suggest ways to minimize the stress on your back while you go about your daily activities.

If you have been working with a therapist, be sure to follow the home program, even if your back is feeling much better. Prevention is definitely the best medicine for back pain.