Most of us have experienced back pain at one time or another. Whether its a constant dull ache or acute shooting pain, at some point you may think, "This will never go away. I bet I need surgery." The reality is that close to 90 percent of back pain can be treated with conservative measures, says Santhosh A. Thomas, DO, MBA, medical director of Cleveland Clinics Westlake Spine Center. Here are steps you can take to ease the pain and help prevent a recurrence. In many cases, especially for people who are not physically fit, pain is the result of doing something you dont normally do-like shoveling snow-or something you do regularly, such as lifting and carrying things, with poor body mechanics. "It boils down to fitness and posture," says Dr. Thomas. "If your back and core muscles are weak, if your spine is excessively curved [lordosis] so that theres pressure on the lower back, if your bones are weak, or if youre obese, which can put pressure on your joints, eventually youre going to feel pain." If that pain occurs after a specific activity, a pulled muscle or ligament-often called a sprain (ligament) or strain (muscle, tendon)-will likely be the cause.