Illustration: Nick Iluzada
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Up to 84 percent of people will experience lower-back pain at some point in their lives—whether due to injury (think: a yoga move gone wrong), poor posture, or osteoporosis that leads to fractures in the vertebrae of the lower spine. Debilitating backaches are actually so widespread that they account for roughly 385 million missed workdays in the United States every year. If you're dealing with acute pain, it helps to start moving as soon as possible to keep muscles flexible, but avoid strenuous activity and try using a heating pad to relax injured or overused muscles; the discomfort should subside in a matter of weeks. For chronic sufferers, however, the pain may never fully go away.
Alternative Rx: Osteopathic Manual Treatment (OMT)
This hands-on form of therapy is much more than a spa-style rubdown: An osteopathic physician will use techniques like stretching and kneading soft tissue around inflamed muscles or applying pressure at specific sites along the back, known as myofascial trigger points, where muscle fibers are tight. A 2013 study in the Annals of Family Medicine found that 63 percent of patients with chronic low-back pain who underwent six sessions of OMT over eight weeks saw a 30 percent or greater reduction in discomfort, decreasing their need for painkillers.