Back pain and relief

Back pain is no joke. One minor tweak to your back and you could be down for the count, taking you away from things you like to do. Luckily there are lots of ways to help prevent back pain and options to relieve those sore, achy muscles if you accidentally overwork them.

Low back pain

Did you know about 80% of people have issues with their low back at least once, with pain ranging from a minor nuisance to a major disability?1 When you’re living with severe pain, you might think about getting a prescription.2 But, clinical guidelines recommend avoiding medications as the initial treatment for low back pain. Back pain is a driver of opioid prescriptions in the U.S., and opioid usage comes with possible (and unnecessary) risks of addiction and potential complications. Instead, you may first want to try exercises and therapies you can do on your own or with the help of a professional.

8 tips to help prevent and treat back pain

Check in with your posture right now. Are you hunched over like a turtle? Loosen up those shoulders and roll them down your back. That's a start, but let's get into more detail with these 8 tips.3

4 back workouts to try at home

Speaking of stretching, the nice thing about back exercises is you don’t need any equipment. If you’ve had a back injury, be sure to get your doctor’s okay before you start working out. Once you get the green light, consider doing these exercises before and right after you get out of bed.

Got your back workouts in?

Nice work. Now, here's a pro tip for the rest of your day. Support your weight with your abdominal muscle as you walk, stand and sit. (No leaning.) Your daily mantra could be: Belly in tight, sit upright.

Who should I see if I have concerns about back pain?

If you’re experiencing severe back pain, or you have other related concerns, there are plenty of experts to see for help. For example, you could visit a chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist and/or acupuncturist. Our national network includes more than 100,000 credentialed back experts. 

Benefits for your back

If you have health insurance through your work, you may have lower back pain treatment visits included in your health plan. For some UnitedHealthcare members, the first 3 visits may be fully covered when you visit a network physical therapist or chiropractor.* 


  1. The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain, 2015.
  2. Non-drug therapies should be first line treatment for low back pain, US guidance says, 2017.
  3. Can You Prevent Back Pain?, 2020. 
  4. Tips to strengthen your core to help prevent and treat back pain, 2021. 
  5. When is back surgery the right choice? Harvard Medical School, 2014
  6. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians, 2017. 

*Members must have physical therapy or chiropractic benefits, with remaining visits in the plan year (i.e. these benefits do not extend the member’s physical therapy or chiropractic benefit maximum). A copay will not apply to services provided during the first 3 visits for new low back pain with a network physical therapist or chiropractor, as long as the plan limit has not been reached. In deductible plans there may be out of pocket costs for services like x-rays or durable medical equipment, but there may not be out of pocket costs for services like spinal manipulation, exercise instruction and other therapies. After the first 3 visits with a network physical therapist or chiropractor for new low back pain, any subsequent visits with any network or out of network physical therapist or chiropractor will be subject to deductibles, copays and coinsurance. This program is not available in all states or for all groups and is subject to change. Refer to your plan documents for specific benefit coverage and limitations or call the toll-free member phone number on your health plan ID card.