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Best Ways To Prevent Back Pain

A new survey by Consumer Reports found that 80 percent of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives, and that those who suffered reported trying 5-6 different treatments to alleviate their pain.

Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton tells co-anchor Harry Smith that the survey confirms what she sees in her everyday medical practice, that back pain is "the most common ailment in this country," and that it can be difficult to treat.

What people found worked best, according to the survey, were hands-on therapies.

"They're staying away from things like medication, prescription drugs and surgery," Ashton said, and instead pursuing things like acupuncture, physical therapy and chiropractic adjustment.

She also said the best treatment for back problems is to not get them in the first place, and that practices like maintaining proper posture, stretching and having a good mattress will help prevent the onset of pain.

Smith added that he finds that doing yoga is beneficial for his own back pain.

"There are certain postures in yoga that are phenomenally helpful, in terms of this stuff," he said.

Ashton also warns against looking for a "quick fix" to get rid of the pain.

"A lot of times that's prescription narcotics, which is actually probably the worst thing for you."

Surgery is another option, but one that should be used as a last resort.

"If you have a herniated disc and you have neurological symptoms, surgery should be a last resort, but it can be effective," she said. "We now know that too much back surgery was done in the past. And, again, prevention before it starts is the key."