As last week's Lancet journal study on the global burden of disease showed, Irish people are particularly badly hit with back pain.
One of the ongoing debates over the years was whether people who have back pain should exercise.
The consensus now is that moving is good for the back. It used to be thought that bed rest would help recovery from a bad back, but it's now recognised that people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly.
Doctors point out that this may be difficult at first if the pain is severe. The advice is to try to move around as soon as possible and aim to do a little more each day.
Activity can range from walking around the house to walking to the shops. A person with back pain has to accept some discomfort - but avoid anything that causes a lot of pain.
There is no need to wait until you are completely pain-free before returning to work. Going back to work will help you return to a normal pattern of activity, and it can distract you from the pain.
If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly towards your chest and put a pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, placing pillows under your knees will help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. Apart from painkillers, which may be prescribed by a doctor, some people find a hot or cold press effective.
Health & Living