About six weeks ago I hurt my back and had to see a physical therapist. In the first week my pain went way down. By the second week I was back on the job. The exercises seemed to help, but how long should I keep doing them? I don't have much time now that I'm back to work.

It's well known that the chances of having another episode of back pain is fairly high. Research shows that one out of every four back pain patients has a second bout within three months. More than half have recurring back pain within one year's time. In fact, this number may be as high as 80 percent.

Exercise seems to be the key to "normal." Many doctors recommend keeping up a program of regular exercise and activity, especially after an injury or problem with back pain. Find a gym or other area where you can complete a simple exercise program you enjoy.

Training in proper lifting and posture at home and at work is also a good idea. The physical therapist you saw during the acute phase can help you find the right long-term fitness and ergonomic program for you.

Alison Wright, MCSP, et al. Individual Active Treatment Combined with Group Exercise for Acute and Subacute Low Back Pain. In Spine. June 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 11. Pp. 1235-1241.

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