Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from low back pain (LBP) on a daily basis? If so, read on.

LBP is one of the most common reasons for missed work, the second most common reason for visits to the doctor, and the single leading cause of disability worldwide. The causes of LBP are complex and diverse, but are not usually associated with structural damage (such as fractures, infection, arthritis).

If LBP is affecting your life on a daily basis, here are my top two suggestions for you:

• Seek out one of your local physical therapists. This is my No. 1 suggestion because you will be thoroughly evaluated by a medical professional and given a treatment plan that is specific to your needs. It takes all of the guess work out of it for those that don’t know where to start.

Often times you will not even need a prescription from your doctor. In New York, physical therapists can treat patients without a doctor’s prescription as long as they have been licensed for greater than three years. This will save you time going to the doctor’s office and money as there will be one less co-pay for you to pay.

• Get up and move. If you do not have the resources to see a physical therapist or just want to get started with recovery on your own, the best advice I can give you is to get up and move. Gone are the days of pain killers and bed rest.

The most recent research shows that gentle but purposeful activity is one of the best things we can do to treat our own back. This includes pain free range of motion and a walking program. Stand up and see how far you can bend in each direction (forward, backward, and side-to-side) without causing pain, then do this motion repeatedly. You will find that with practice, each day you will be able to bend further and further. Begin a walking program and strive for 30 minutes, five times a week.

It is ok if that is too much at first, you can start slow and build up your walking tolerance. If within one to two weeks you don’t notice any improvement or you feel you are getting worse, seek the formal advice of a trained medical professional like your physical therapist or medical doctor.

Article by Joseph Hunter