It is impossible for me to give specific recommendations about how much bed rest is ideal because it depends on the cause of your pain, as well as many other variables. However, with that said, the following are some general guidelines.
Are you suffering from acute (recent onset) back pain?
Bed rest for the first little while after you injure your low back can be helpful to control your pain. However, do not feel like you have to rest. Bed rest does not necessarily make your back heal better or faster. It also is not necessary to prevent further injury or permanent damage to your back.
The more you can engage in your usual activities, the more quickly you will heal. The more quickly you can return to work and your usual activities has been shown to reduce your risk of future pain and disability. People who engage in prolonged bed rest have higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery, and greater absenteeism from work.
So if you have recently injured your back, I recommend the following:
- Contact our clinic if you are concerned about your pain or if the pain does not resolve in a few days. We will determine the cause of your back pain. If we believe it is amenable to chiropractic care, we will also treat you to give you relief from your back pain as quickly as possible.
- Engage in as little bed rest and activity avoidance as is tolerable.
- Return to your normal activities, both work and hobby-related, as quickly as possible. It may be necessary to modify the way you do some of your activities so as not to unnecessarily increase your pain. For example, stand at your desk instead of sitting all day or use a support behind your back while sitting, etc. For more specific modifications that would be helpful for your specific complaint, contact our clinic.
Are you suffering from chronic (long term) back pain?
Bed rest is contraindicated for chronic low back pain. Prolonged bed rest will actually lead to further weakening of your muscles and joints, increased stress on your discs and the adjacent bones, and increased sensitivity of your nervous system. These changes will all lead to your back pain becoming even worse.
So if you have chronic low back pain, I recommend the following:
- Contact our clinic. We will help you determine what is causing your back pain. We will also be able to provide you with treatments that will help to decrease your back pain.
- Completely avoid bed rest.
- Remain as active as possible. It may be necessary to modify the way you do some of your activities, or even temporarily avoid certain activity, so as not to unnecessarily increase or maintain your pain.
- Slowly increase your activity level week by week, trying to avoid flare-ups. But also realize that if you do flare-up, it will settle down again.
- Ensure adequate sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet.
Bed rest may be beneficial for the first few days after you injure your back. However, it is not good for back pain in the long run. Too much bed rest will actually make things worse. Instead of prolonged best rest, it is much more beneficial to gradually return to your normal activities at home and at work.