You wake up and your back is already unhappy. You stand for a long time and your back begins to ache. You’re doing yard work pulling weeds and suddenly back pain sets in. You’re exercising and you trip only to tweak your back. You sit in a chair and suddenly sciatica pain shoots down your leg.
When any of these scenarios happen, your first thought may be to go lie down. But that’s not what you want to do.
Why Bed Rest Doesn’t Help Back Pain
Bed rest changes your spine. That’s because the muscles that support your spine go off duty while lying down. This causes them to grow weak, which causes stiffness. A stiff back, in turn, can lead to muscle spasms and it aggravates the back pain. The ligaments and tendons can lose flexibility and elasticity.
Yes, people need to sleep. The back is designed to rest when you sleep and stay active when you’re awake. Lying down can affect the curve of your spine to make it flatter. This changes the spine’s mechanics.
Considering the muscles and soft tissues move little during bed rest, it puts your back at a higher risk for injury. All these changes weaken the back that it won’t be prepared to handle the load the body puts on the spine.
What to Do When Back Pain Hits
The back is born to move. Movement is medicine. Movement keeps the spongy disc between the bones hydrated. When they don’t have enough moisture, they shrink and put pressure on the spine.
If you absolutely need to lie down, do it for a short time. If you lie on your back, put a thick pillow under your knees to ease the strain on your back. If you lie on your side, put the pillow between your bent knees to keep your hips aligned.
A better way to treat back pain is with conservative spine therapy such as using ice or heat, taking over-the-counter acetaminophen or NSAIDS, rubbing on a topical pain reliever, or getting a massage. Check with your doctor for the best options. Don’t take NSAIDs if you have an aspirin or ibuprofen allergy or stomach issues.
Do low-impact activities such as walking, yoga, aquatic therapy, core muscle strengthening exercises, and stretches. It’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program. If the back pain doesn’t subside after trying these conservative options, make an appointment with the doctor.
Have a question? Please contact us or call 214-823-2052. We have two conveniently located offices in Addison and Dallas serving patients in Dallas, Addison, Plano, Frisco, Garland, and other cities in the DFW metroplex.