I think I've gotten into a bad cycle with my back pain. It hurts when I move so I stopped exercising. The less active I am, the stiffer I get. Now I'm afraid to even try some things. Help! How do I get off this merry-go-round?

You've already taken the first step: seeing the problem. You may need some intervention to break the cycle. Medications to stop the pain-spasm cycle help some people. Specific exercises or manipulation are two other options.

Avoiding movements and activities for fear of setting off the pain is common after an episode of low back pain. This is called fear avoidance behavior (FAB). Patients often have FABs to avoid injuring themselves again, too. Back pain patients become fearful and start to change their activity level. They become deconditioned and depressed.

You may want to see a physical therapist who can test you for FAB and guide you through the process of regaining full motion again. Don't let this fear factor keep you on the merry-go-round.