DEAR DOCTOR K: I hurt my back a few weeks ago. I'm feeling better now, but not 100 percent. How quickly should I return to normal activities? I don't want to reinjure my back.
DEAR READER: You're wise to be cautious. After an episode of back pain, it's essential to properly time your return to normal activities. Too rapid a return could lead to a relapse. But -- and this is an important "but" -- too timid a return can delay, or even prevent, recovery. It used to be that doctors recommended immobility and bed rest for people with a sudden back injury that was causing a lot of pain.