According to an article published in the New York Times there are new guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain. These updated guidelines published by the American College of Physicians recommend physicians advise their patients to try alternative therapies like exercise or massage prior to prescribing medications including anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers or pain relievers. The article refers to both acute lower back pain and chronic lower back pain that has been present for at least 12 weeks, advising both groups to start with nonpharmacological treatment.
The article goes on to state that scans like an MRI are often useless and can be misleading as the results often show abnormalities that are not related to the patients pain and they do not change the course of recovery. The bottom line of the new guidelines is to stay active (even when your back hurts) and to gradually return to your prior level of function and your pain will get better.