Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for consulting a physician, second only to the common cold. Despite little supporting scientific evidence, bed rest was considered the primary treatment. But in a recent article entitled “Bed Rest is No Longer the Best Option for Back Pain”, Physiotherapist Sylvia Ho explains how and why the approach to treating back pain is changing to emphasize active recovery over rest.
“Over the years, studies have emerged showing that bed rest of any duration is not effective for low back pain and that it often delays recovery. In fact, other than delayed recovery, prolonged bed rest can also have detrimental effects on the body. Patients with prolonged bed rest may end up with osteoporosis (bone calcium loss), muscle wasting due to muscle protein loss, deep vein thrombosis and undesirable psychological effects.”
Staying Active is the Key to a Speedy Recovery
In the acute phase of a back injury, resting can be very useful to calm down the pain and avoid further damage to tissues. However, the acute phase generally lasts only a few days. Long term, activity modified for your condition will:
- speed healing by pumping out wastes
- prevent reinjury by strengthening muscles, balancing the strength of opposing muscle groups, and increasing flexibility
- relieve depression by generating endorphins.
Scientific work done over the last 10 to 20 years has repeatedly confirmed that rest is not a useful treatment for low back pain. In fact it may be counterproductive, leading to more pain, more episodes over the years, more time off work and increased disability.
Current evidence now suggests that scaling down activities and gradually building them back up again as soon as possible to normal levels is the best course of action for rapid recovery and long-term treatment success.
Don’t Let Pain Stop You
It is a common concept that less movement can minimize the pain of an aching back. On the contrary, extended bed rest can make the back muscle weaker—often complicating the situation. A regular exercise program can solve several back-related problems and help prevent future injuries.
Active Recovery Tips:
- Low back pain is extremely common and often caused by overuse and muscle strain or injury. Treatment can help you stay as active as possible.
- When you no longer have acute pain, you may be ready for gentle strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, followed by some stretching exercises.
- Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain, but it may also help you recover faster, prevent reinjury to your back, and reduce the risk of disability from back pain.
- Exercises to reduce low back pain are not complicated and can be done at home without any special equipment.
- It’s important that you don’t let fear of pain keep you from trying gentle activity.
- You should try to be active soon after noticing pain and gradually increase your activity level. Too little activity can lead to loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and then to more pain.
The Providers at Airrosti are committed to pinpointing the cause of your pain, and fixing it, fast. After thoroughly evaluating the patient’s symptoms, they reach a diagnosis and devise a customized treatment plan. They often couple manual therapy with active rehab exercises such as modified stretches and Foam Roller exercises. According to patient based outcomes, on average, patients are pain-free in just three visits to Airrosti. If you’ve been suffering from lower back pain, call Airrosti today to schedule an appointment with a Provider near you.