Back pain treatment: when you are experiencing back pain, inactivity may seem like the most reasonable approach to managing it; motion taxes the muscles of the back and jars the spine. In reality, bed rest is only appropriate for certain types of back pain, and then only for a day or two.
If you have suffered an injury to the back such as a strained muscle, then taking it easy for a day or two and applying ice to reduce inflammation are acceptable methods of pain management. These types of injuries generally repair themselves within a few days. Muscle tightness and soreness can benefit from rest and the application of heat, which facilitates increased blood flow that helps to loosen the muscle, a natural form of back pain treatment.
A paper on the subject of bed rest, written by Susan and Brad Sorosky, MDs, and Joel Press, MD, tells us that aerobic fitness has been shown to decrease by 25% after 3 weeks of bed rest, and that muscles lose 1-3% of their strength per day if not used. To see the whole text, refer to DesertSpineandSports.com.
Aerobic fitness, also called cardiovascular fitness, is important to recovering from injuries; it means a strong heart that is able to send more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body. Muscles and spinal discs need oxygen and nutrients to repair themselves.
A loss of muscle strength is also deleterious to recovering from or managing back pain. Whatever the cause of your pain, you need strong core muscles to support the spine and share the load of the upper body. Often, back pain treatment plans include an exercise regimen geared toward your specific problem, whether it’s a misplaced vertebra, a damaged disc, a muscle imbalance or stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal and impingement of nerves). Strong muscles help to hold your spine in place and prevent strain on certain muscles that occurs when they compensate for weaker ones.
To decide whether bed rest is right for your type of pain, it is best to know what the source is. A doctor may be able to help you, but a firm diagnosis is often not reached since there are so many potential causes of back pain. The best thing you can do for yourself is describe in detail the type of pain you feel and what happened at its onset. Whether you felt sudden sharp pain after lifting a heavy object or soreness the day after playing a game of basketball will drastically change the diagnosis of your back problem. Rest is appropriate for acute injuries (such as soreness after a basketball game), and in case the pain is so severe that movement is not possible. If such severe pain exists, alternative back pain treatment means must be sought.