A report suggests that the best remedy for back pain is also the one least-often prescribed by doctors — exercise.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill analyzed more than 20 studies involving treatments for roughly 30,000 patients with acute lower back pain. They found exercise alone or in combination with education can help to prevent lower back pain.

What kind of exercise — strength training or cardio — did not seem to matter.

Other treatment methods such as back belts or orthotic insoles were not effective in preventing lower back pain, said the report, which was published recently in the journal, JAMA Internal Medicine.

More than 80 percent of people around the world experience a bout of lower back pain at least once in their lives, researchers wrote. The condition is painful and often severely limits a person’s ability to perform daily activities, and it is one of the most common reasons workers take sick leave.

Recurrence of lower back pain is common within the first year, researchers said.

But physical activity, they suggest, does wonders to strengthen the muscles that support the back and avoid another round of ice packs and missed work days.

 

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