The classic symptom of sciatica is shooting pain down the
back of the leg, often accompanied by back pain. Clinical
sciatica and low back pain (LBP) involves a variety of approaches,
including bed rest - although evidence suggests that bed rest
does little or nothing to reduce LBP or any spine-related
The Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group conducted a
recent systematic review of clinical trials (considered one
of the highest forms of research evidence) comparing bed rest
with other approaches to managing LBP and sciatica. Nine studies
meeting predetermined criteria were included in the final
analysis, representing study results for 1,435 patients. Overall,
results showed no significant differences in pain intensity
of functional status following bed rest, leading the authors
to draw three powerful conclusions:
1) Bed rest is not effective in the treatment of low back
2) Bed rest may have slightly harmful effects on acute LBP.
3) No further research on the role of bed rest in the treatment
of acute LBP is necessary.
Hagen KB, Hilde G, Jamtvedt G, et al. The Cochrane review
of bed rest for acute low back pain and sciatica. Spine
2000: Vol. 25, No. 22, pp2932-39.