Back Pain Treatments: Advice to Stay Active

Recent studies indicate that there is little evidence that bed rest will increase rate of recovery for people who have back pain or low back pain or sciatica. We all try to listen to our own bodies, and respond to it accordingly when it tells us that something is wrong. It is a natural inclination for all of us to try to go easy on our bodies when it is hurting, especially when we feel pain that gets worse while we are active or even doing manual chores. When we were sick as kids, we would stay home from school and remain in bed until we felt better. As adults, we may think that resting on that couch or in bed will make our back pain better. We may feel that by getting extra sleep or inactivity, the muscles and joints may get a chance to heal themselves. This is a pretty good concept and may work in many cases, but may not work in others. Sometimes the best therapy for your stiff joints and achy back may be healthy exercise to warm muscles and bring your body back to life.

The data in journals, books, and from the mouths of osteopaths and doctors indicate the importance of just going back to what you were doing before as a healthy back pain treatment. This is a relatively new concept in Western medicine, whereas the previous belief was in lots of bed rest for sufferers, at least in the acute stage of back pain. Today, more data coming in is convincing experts to recommend patients getting back to their old routine and resuming physical activity sooner. Though we may want to "shut it down" to give it a chance to heal, we may be actually hindering the process of healing be remaining so inactive. Bed rest for the spine means limited mobility. The spine and associated structures (like the discs) need movement and heat so that they can bring necessary nutrients and water in and move waste products out. Without the routine of working, exercising, and walking around, the muscles holding the spine in proper position can weaken, and the spine can be deprived of the right vitamins and nutrients that it needs. This lack of nutrition and structural support can further exacerbate whatever problem you have or even create additional structural instability. For the problem you have, you will need to stay as active as you can to retain the muscle tone you need to make yourself better.

For some specific medical causes for back pain, bed rest may be the best course of treatment at a specific stage of the illness or injury. Some studies indicate that bed rest may be appropriate for patients suffering from frequent back spasms. Some patients may need bed rest after suffering from an accident, or recovering from a back pain related surgery. On the other hand, a patient will need to "get going again" in order to build up their muscles to give their spine their best chance to recover.