MYTH #5 Alternative treatments don’t work
FACT Nearly one in six Americans has tried some form of alternative therapy to ease an aching back , according to the National Institutes of Health. And for good reason: Studies suggest these treatments may be more effective than conventional physical therapy and medications  in some cases. In fact, in a recent German study, half of the lower back patients who received two weekly acupuncture sessions over six months reported a significant reduction in pain . The needles may stimulate the release of pain-relieving brain chemicals, say experts. Find a licensed practitioner from the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Research also shows that seeing a chiropractor may help you feel better faster. These practitioners believe back pain is caused by dislocations in the vertebrae. During an “adjustment,” gentle force is applied to your spine to stretch your joints and realign them. To find a licensed chiropractor near you, consult the American Chiropractic Association.
MYTH #6 A superfirm mattress is best for your back
FACT Actually, it might be the source of your pain. Trying to find a back-friendly bed is like playing Goldilocks: A too-soft mattress doesn’t offer enough support, while a rock-hard one can increase pressure on the spine . A study in the journal Lancet found that those who snoozed on a medium-firm mattress experienced less back pain—and popped fewer pain relievers —than those who slept  on a harder one. Can’t afford a brand-new bed? Consider buying a pad such as those from Therapedic (from $30; bedbathbeyond.com) to cushion an extra-firm mattress. If your bed is too soft, place a bed board, like one by Duro-Med ($35; drugstore.com), beneath the mattress to prevent it from sagging.