The way you sit, eat, and go about your daily routine can influence your susceptibility to the second most common reason why Americans go to the doctor — back pain. As the leading cause of disability for those under 45 years of age in the U.S., back pain is a condition that leaves 2.4 million Americans chronically disabled and 2.4 million temporarily disabled, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. According to the "gender pain bias," although women have a healthier lifestyle and aren't as overweight in comparison to men, they are more likely to have a higher chance of back pain than their counterparts. Findings, published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, revealed that the seven-day back pain occurrence rate in the Federal Republic of Germany was 40 percent among women and 32 percent among men, due to contributing risk factors like low level of social support, physical inactivity, nonemployment, among others. Increased exposure to these risk factors can leave more women than men prone to developing chronic back pain later in life.

Acute Back Pain

Back pain that is felt instantly and lasts less than six weeks is classified as acute pain. This type of back pain can be the result of a fall, sports injury, or heavy lifting, says the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The symptoms of these back pain injuries can range from a muscle ache to either throbbing or stabbing pain that will limit your ability to move in motion or stand up straight. Treatment for acute back pain usually involves no treatment with the exception of pain killers that will ease the level of discomfort felt on your back.

Chronic Back Pain

Unlike acute back pain, chronic back pain can interfere with everyday activities, such as your ability to sleep and exercise. Patients of this condition are diagnosed by duration of the back pain — if the physical discomfort continues to be consistent for a period of more than three months, it is classified as chronic, says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. If back pain results from a series of diseases, such as scoliosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, chances are you will suffer from chronic pain.

Narcotic Drugs Treatment

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that doctors are not properly following the back pain treatment guidelines. Using the National Ambulatory Medicare Care and National Hospital Ambulatory Care surveys between 1999-2010, researchers evaluated 23,918 visits for spinal problems, accounting for 73 million visits per year to the doctors. "We observed a significant rise in the frequency of treatments that are considered discordant with current guidelines including the use of advanced imaging, such as CT or MRI, referrals to other physicians (presumably for procedures or surgery), and the use of narcotics," said John N. Mafi, M.D., lead author of the study. The use of narcotic drugs and expensive MRIs are doing more harm than good for back pain patients who seek less invasive treatments. These unnecessary treatments have a minimal effect and can leave a dent in your wallet.

Natural Ways To Treat Back Pain

While back pain can grow to be physically discomforting, there are several daily activities that can alleviate the pain without the stack of medical bills.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Eating the right foods can help protect your back from pain. Consuming a diet rich in red grapes can greatly reduce aches because it contains resveratrol — a polyphenol found in the fruit — which can block enzymes that inhibit tissue deterioration, says The research done on the effects of resveratrol on pain found that polyphenol protects against the cartilage damage that produces back pain. Blueberries and cranberries are also rich in resveratrol and can easily be incorporated into your daily meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

2. Wear comfortable shoes

The shoes you wear on your feet can play a role in the severity of your back pain. Flip-flops, although comfortable shoes in plain sight, actually affect your back because they cause stress on your arch, heel, and entire foot. says that the body is put into overdrive when that added stress is felt by your foot, which will travel to the legs, hips, and your lower back. Researchers at Lehigh University administered, to back pain sufferers, lightweight shoes with simple cushions to test their effect on the patients. The findings showed that 80 percent of the participants felt a great amount of relief within the year.

3. Carry less baggage

A heavy handbag or messenger bag can contribute to a great deal of back pain. It's time to get rid of that excess baggage to prevent damage to your spine. To prevent back pain, opt for a light bag with minimal features on it that can contribute to the bag's overall weight. The American Chiropractic Association says the total weight of your bag should not be more than 10 percent of your body weight, or not exceed 15 lbs. regardless of your weight, says Dr Carl Zaycosky, a chiropractor in Wilmington, Ohio.

4. Sit with a proper posture

The way you sit can trigger pain on your lower back. Whether you are at your desk or watching television, maintaining a proper posture is vital to decrease your chances of having a bad back. Back pain is mostly prominent in college students because of the increased computer usage, video game playing, studying, and reading. Doing these activities while sitting with your head bent forward in uncomfortable chairs can result in a slouched posture, says the University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. To prevent a bad posture while watching TV or hunched over the computer, doing some stretches every few minutes will ensure you flex your inactive muscles to prevent pain concentration.

5. Place a pillow under your knees at night

Sleeping with a pillow under your knees at night can help prevent back pain. says the placement of the pillow will halve the estimated 55 lbs. of pressure resulting from sleeping on your back. Your back feels a great deal of pressure when you sleep on it. Therefore, it is important to slightly elevate your legs to reduce lower back tension and get a good night's sleep.

6. Listen to music

Music directly impacts the nervous system and the limbic system. The Daily Mail reported on a study published in The Vienna Medical Weekly Journal, in which researchers tested the effect of music on chronic back pain after back surgery in 65 patients who were between 21 and 68 years old. The control group received medical care and physiotherapy while the other group listened to music and did visualization classes for 25 minutes a day for three weeks, in addition to the administered hospital care. The results of the study showed the group who listened to music and did visualization classes felt a significant amount of pain relief compared to their counterparts.

For exercises that can significantly improve a bad back, visit