Rest is not Best for Back Pain

Bed rest, is now understood to have a very limited role in healing sore backs. In very small doses, bed rest can give you a break when standing or sitting causes severe pain. Too much may actually make back pain worse. If you have to spend a day or two on bed rest here are the keys to doing it right.

To get the most from staying in bed, limit the time you are lying down to a few hours at a stretch, and do not stay in bed more than one or two days tops. Ice your back often to reduce or eliminate the inflammatory response that has resulted in the pain you are resting for. To ease the strain on your back while resting, try putting pillows under your head (although do not prop your head up so high it strains your back) and between your knees when lying on your side, under your knees when lying on your back, or under your hips when lying on your stomach. These positions reduce forces that sitting or standing impose on the back — especially on the discs, ligaments, and muscles.

Not only is an extended period of bed rest not helpful for back pain, it may be hurtful, prolonging recovery or leaving you in worse pain.  While your back may feel a little better in the short term, too much time in bed can create other health concerns. Muscles may lose conditioning and tone subjecting you to easier re-injury, you may develop constipation, and experience increased risk of developing blood clots in the veins of your pelvis and legs. Being on prolonged bed rest may also create depression, as well as an increased sense of physical weakness and malaise.

Many studies suggest that an early return to normal activities — with some rest as needed — is better than prolonged rest for an extended period.

While excessive wear and tear on the back is thought to have a role in the development of herniated discs, degenerative discs and back pain, experts believe that it is important to stay active even if your back hurts. When workers on medical leave due to low back pain were told to stay active, it was found that it increased their chances of returning to work.

The type of exercise a person chooses to do while dealing with back pain is important. Those with, back pain, for instance, may not want to do activities that compress the spine like jogging. Low-impact activies such as elliptical machines , stationary bikes or swimming may help keep joints in the back moving without putting an unnecessary strain on them.

Chiropractors are generally quick to encourage staying active with back pain and will often prescribe specific home exercises tailored to helping with a faster recovery from back pain. Chiropractic patients generally return to work fast and are less likely to have re-injury because of the focus placed on both mechanics and activity.