Considerable evidence in the past decade shows that bed rest has not been beneficial to patients suffering from low back pain (LBP). A recent review by the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group analyzed all randomized studies up to March 2003, yielding two new trials comparing advice to rest in bed with advice to stay active for patients with LBP. In total, six trials compared bed rest with staying active for the management of LBP.
Results found that advice to rest in bed was clearly less effective than advice to stay active for patients with acute simple LBP. High-quality evidence shows small but consistent differences in favor of staying active for pain and functional status at 3-4 weeks and 12 weeks follow-up, respectively. Additionally, in patients with acute simple LBP, evidence shows that bed rest will increase length of sick leave in the first 12 weeks, compared to advice to stay active. For patients with sciatica, evidence shows that bed rest has little or no effect on pain and functional status, compared to staying active at 3-4 weeks and 12 weeks.
All in all, it appears that LBP sufferers should not count on bedrest to help decrease their recovery time or stave off pain. If you suffer from LBP, talk to your Doctor of Chiropractic about an appropriate treatment plan to include staying active.
Hagen KB, Jamtvedt G, Hilde G, Winnem MF. The updated Cochrane Review of bed rest for low back pain and sciatica. Spine, March 1, 2005;30(5):542-46.
For more information on back pain, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/backpain.html