It wasn’t too long ago that bed rest was routinely recommended by spine surgeons in Los Angeles to treat episodes of back pain. However, research in support of discouraging bed rest for back pain is growing. A Japanese study of workers with acute low back pain noted an increase in pain for subjects assigned to the bed rest group. Harvard researchers cite several clinical trials supporting the notion of limiting periods of inactivity.
Muscles supporting your spine can become weak with long periods of rest. The resulting stiffness may contribute to muscle spasms once significant movement is attempted, further increasing back pain. Soft tissues like ligaments and tendons may also lose elasticity and flexibility.
The spongy discs between the bones of your spine stay hydrated with movement. Intervertebral discs shrink without enough moisture, which places pressure on adjacent parts of your spine and increases the risk of further injury.
If you experience increased back pain after long periods of rest, you’re less likely to be motivated to want to get up and move. Some people with progressively worsening back pain end up in a cycle that includes using their discomfort as an excuse to avoid activities, which can lead to depression and increased anxiety and stress–also contributing factors to back pain.
Start by having a conversation with your board-certified back doctor to make sure you get moving in a way that’s safe. You may be referred to an occupational or physical therapist to receive appropriate exercise recommendations or a chiropractor for muscle manipulations and other treatments that may ease your pain. You can also keep moving with:
Periods of rest when back pain becomes more than a minor annoyance should be limited to no more than two hours at a time. What should be avoided are extended days off and total avoidance of activities. Instead, take occasional breaks and modify routines or movements as necessary. Let your doctor know if you experience different or increased pain.
When conservative treatments are no longer providing adequate relief, it’s time to reach out to an experienced Los Angeles spine surgeon who can review your individual case and recommend additional solutions. To learn more about non-surgical and surgical options for back pain relief, including minimally invasive and motion-preserving spine surgery, call The Spine Institute at (310) 828-7757 today.