I Hurt My Back, Should I Stay In Bed?

Have you ever woken up with a “twinge” in your back? Ever moved the wrong way and felt your back tighten up? Well, you are not alone. Low back pain is a common experience that occurs at least once in 70% of the population’s lifetime (McIntosh and Hall, 2009). Episodes of low back pain can be described as intense pain, muscle tension and stiffness around the area. In certain cases, symptoms can include pain down one leg.

Bed rest may appear to be the best solution with acute low back pain, but according to research staying active can be more beneficial. A systematic review by McIntosh and Hall (2009) found that compared to bed rest, staying active was more effective in reducing pain and improving function in 3-12 weeks. The authors also noted that increased bed rest can result in increased negative effects such as joint stiffness and loss of muscle strength. The use of anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, advice to stay active and exercise all resulted in better outcomes than rest alone. It is important to note, however, the potential adverse effects which can occur, such as gastro-intestinal problems from NSAIDs and drowsiness, dizziness and nausea from muscle relaxants (McIntosh and Hall, 2009).

So, what kind of activity should you do if you wake up with low back pain or move the wrong way? It depends on the person as everyone will present in various ways and have different limitations. Your Physiotherapist can assess your situation, educate you on how to best stay active and prescribe specific low back exercises that can allow you to reach your goals.

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