Don’t Baby Your Spine When Treating Back Pain
Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit or for time away from work, so when we’re felled by a back injury, we want to treat the problem as fast as we can. Many people believe this is done by resting your spine, and to a degree, they are right. However, you’ll make a lot more headway if you don’t baby your back while you’re trying to help it recover. We explain what we mean by that, and we share some tips on how to best help your spine recover after an injury in today’s blog.
Rest Isn’t Best For A Bad Back
It’s important to follow your doctor’s specific instructions when it comes to caring for your spine, so don’t take this advice in place of individualized recommendations from a provider who was able to see you in person. That said, odds are their recommendations will be similar to what you’ll read below.
For the first 24-48 hours, rest can help to calm spine pain. Swelling can subside, muscles can relax and inflammation can decrease. But after 48 hours, prolonged rest can actually have a number of negative side effects for your spine. Extended spinal rest has been linked to:
- A reduction in flexibility
- Loss of muscle tone
- Decreased blood flow
- Increased risk of depression
Not only are you at risk for the above factors, but rest isn’t going to drive home that recovery. Activity and muscle strengthening will be what will help do that. So not only are you risking certain health conditions by staying in bed, you’re also prolonging your rehab because you’re not doing anything to actively help your spine get better. So what should you be doing instead?
Fueling Your Back Pain Recovery
Instead of babying your back, challenge it. Now, that’s not to say you should try to put a new roof on your house the day after pulling a muscle in your spine, but you do need to be conscious about testing your spine with simple activities and slowing increasing your workload. By doing this, you’ll be helping to increase blood flow to injured structures, which helps to decrease swelling and bring them nutrients, but it will also help you increase muscle strength and stability in your spine.
A lot of times our spine pain develops because a particular area of our back was overloaded with stress. This can cause muscles to tear or unstable regions to shift out of place, causing pain. So when you’re recovering, you want to help develop muscles and stabilize your spine so that it can better help handle stress and prevent a similar injury down the road. And the best way to do that is with gradual activity increases.
So if you are dealing with a back injury, don’t just baby your back and hope everything will be back to normal after a week in bed. Stay active, but listen to your body. Do some simple movements and exercises, like going for a walk or swimming, as these won’t put too much pressure on your spine, but they will help to pump oxygenated blood around your body and spur recovery. If you feel better the next day, consider increasing your activity little by little until you’re back to your old self. Gradual activity increases will help you get back to doing all the activities you love sooner.
And if you find that you need professional assistance along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at the Midwest Spine & Brain Institute. For more information, contact his office today at (651) 430-3800.