If you are suffering from chronic back pain, be warned that it may not be something as simple as a sprain. Such pains can have several causes ranging from a herniated disc to muscular distress and sciatica.

Before deciding on a treatment, patients should try and understand what's going on behind your back. The spine is made up of interlocking vertebrae with the disc between acting as shock absorbers and preventing the bones from scraping against each other.

Healthy discs carry a jellylike center and a hard external covering that binds it to the vertebrae. As this disc ages, the center begins to dry out and the external shell tears and weakens. It eventually gets herniated when the inner core bulges out.

In some patients, the disc ends up pressing a nerve root and causes inflammation and excruciating back pain, which then could result in sciatica in the buttock region and thighs with the pain radiating down the entire leg.

Here is a simple check list to help you understand how to counter back pain:

1) If your back pain is accompanied by fever and a sudden weight loss, check with your doctor immediately. And if these symptoms are accompanied by lack of bladder and bowel control and a general numbness in the groin or anal area, try home remedies.

2) Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (aspirin, Advil, Motrin), are recommended.

3) Doctors do not suggest bed rest for treatment of lower back pain. In fact, they urge patients to take up limited activity instead of hitting the bed. Try some gentle stretches to improve your general mobility.

4) In case the pain stays for more than one day, head out to the doctor's clinic. In case, you are diagnosed with a herniated disc, the doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants though drugs used in neuropathy could also help.