Prolonged Bed Rest Is Not Good for Chronic Back Pain
One of the most common physical illnesses we can suffer is lower back pain. It is so widespread that about 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. If you have sciatica or lower back pain, it is essential to know how to relieve it and prevent recurrences or flare-ups.
Staying Active Can Help
In the past, doctors would advise those with chronic back pain to limit exercise and stay in bed. Times have changed. Avoiding prolonged bed rest and staying active can help you prevent lower back pain. Exercising and being active have a better outcome for lower back pain than being inactive. Movement and activity increase blood flow to many tissues in your body and can help the healing process.
Staying active includes:
- Continuing your daily activities
- Doing a simple exercise routine
- Going on a short walk
- Following a guided exercise program
How Bed Rest Can Worsen Your Back Pain
Extended bed rest can increase other health risks and slow your recovery. Below are some ways bed rest can worsen your back pain:
- It weakens your core: Bed rest can weaken your core muscles, worsen the pain over time, and lead to other health issues.
- Reduction in nutrient delivery: Your heart rate decreases, and your blood flow slows down while on bed rest. The spinal discs cushioning the vertebrae and soft tissues rely on blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to function and heal.
- Prolonged inflammation: Lying down slows the movement of fluids around the spine, which can prolong inflammation and swelling. The healing process happens because nutrients are carried to where needed and push the inflammatory materials from the injury site.
- Changes in disc size: The size of your intervertebral disc can increase due to swelling by the absorption of fluids when you lie down. The risk of an injury is high during this time, particularly during bending movements.
- Change in spinal biomechanics: Extended periods of bed rest can alter the standard lordotic curve of your lower spine and makes it flatter, which can change the standard mechanics of your spine.
The changes above can weaken your back and worsen your pain. They can also pose a higher risk of injury due to insufficient load-bearing capacity of the spine and spinal instability. However, this is not to say you should keep bearing through the pain and never rest. Small doses of bed rest can provide a break from your back pain. Limit your bed rests to a few hours a day when you need a break.
Tips to Help You Get Active
Engaging in physical activities suits your lower back and can help you heal quicker. In the beginning stages of back pain, you must take specific steps to optimize the healing process. But before you start, you will need to battle the immediate pain if it prevents you from being active.
The most common procedures used to address the initial pain include:
- Heat therapy after the first 48 hours
- Ice therapy for the first 48 hours
- Topical analgesics
How to Stay Active If You Have Lower Back Pain
You can engage in more physical movements once your pain level has decreased. Take part in low-impact exercises that can help build strength. The type of exercise you choose should not put any more stress on the injured back tissues, so exercise selection must be made carefully.
Some of the best activities for lower back pain include the following:
- Aquatic therapy
- Weight training
Finding a way to fit exercise into your daily routine is essential. You must stick to the program for exercise to help in the long run. This requires a lot of dedication and motivation.
If you have an acute back pain episode, talk to your physical therapist or doctor before starting a new exercise program. Stop immediately and call your doctor if you experience sudden or sharp pain while exercising.
Using the correct form, technique, and posture when doing the suggested activities and staying consistent with low-impact exercises can improve your overall well-being and enhance your spinal health.
If you or a family member suffers from lower back pain, check out the Lower Back Pain Recovery Challenge to take the first steps to recovery.
Watch YouTube Video: Six Exercises to Relieve Back Pain in Nine Minutes. Follow the video below to learn the six most effective exercises to help relieve your lower back pain.
Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney. Severe lower back pain can affect our ability to go about our daily lives. If you have suffered a back injury or other types of injuries in an accident, call our law office at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
Our legal team can discuss your case and provide free, friendly advice anytime.
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Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash
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