Misery loves company, as the saying goes, and if you find yourself immobilized by excruciating pain in your back, you might derive a bit of comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Cleveland Clinic rheumatologist Daniel Mazanec, MD, says he and his colleagues at Cleveland Clinic treat more than 600 patients each week for back pain. "The back is the number one source of pain that people in the U.S. report to their primary-care physicians," says Dr. Mazanec, director of the Cleveland Clinic Spine Center. "It is well documented that between 80 and 90 percent of Americans will have episodes of back pain lasting between two and four days at some point during their adult lives. So it is a universal problem." According to Dr. Mazanec, older men and women with arthritis joint degeneration are particularly susceptible to back pain. But all individuals are vulnerable, he declares, regardless of age, gender, occupation, or activity level. On a brighter note, Dr. Mazanec contends that the incidence of back pain could be significantly reduced if people better understood the anatomy of their backs and the forces that these complex arrays of bone and soft tissues must typically withstand. Most important, he advises, all adults should be aware of the simple measures they can take on a daily basis to protect the health and structural integrity of their backs.