It’s tempting to opt for the simple “treatment” of rest when you have back pain. To be fair, you may feel better if you give overstrained spine-supporting muscles a short break. Lying down or resting may also help your body heal to some extent or shift stress off certain spinal structures. But overdoing it with rest—meaning that’s pretty much your go-to “remedy” every time you have significant back pain—can do more harm than good when it comes to your long-term health and wellbeing. Here’s why.
If you remain inactive for too long as you recover from an injury or spine surgery, areas around your back could become less flexible and limber, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. What you should do instead is make an effort to move as much as possible as you recover, which may involve:
Too much rest will gradually weaken spinal muscles because they aren’t being sufficiently “challenged” or stimulated. If your spine-supporting muscles are weak, your spine will have to absorb more of the stress from your regular movements, which increases your risk of experiencing additional back issues in the future.
If you’re only treating your back pain with rest, scar tissue may develop around nerves or other structures in and around your spine that are in the process of healing. While some scar tissue is beneficial, too much of it could contribute to increased pain and nerve irritation. Active forms of physical therapy and various forms of exercise can keep scar tissue formation to a minimum.
A potentially serious problem associated with prolonged bed rest is the risk of developing blood clots, especially in the legs. Blood clots sometimes develop because of a lack of sufficient circulation. Regular movement can keep the blood properly circulating, which also facilitates the delivery of healthy nutrients to the spine. Drinking plenty of water as you recover from a spine-related injury can also keep your blood from becoming too thick from dehydration. Similarly, after having a procedure such as spinal fusion surgery, Los Angeles patients should hydrate as much as possible while they recover.
If you remain inactive for long periods because of back pain, you may find yourself dwelling on your discomfort and limitations. Thoughts like these can contribute to depression and anxiety. However, studies show that remaining as active as possible during recovery can be good for emotional health. Activity can also reduce the risk of having depression-related issues by:
If you’re experiencing severe or persistent back pain, make sure to see an experienced spine specialist for prompt diagnosis and treatment. The industry-leading physicians at The Spine Institute are pioneers in spinal health, employing cutting-edge technology and innovative methods to enable patients to live pain-free, active lives. To schedule a personal consultation with one of our spinal health experts, give us a call today at 310-828-7757.