Which Back Injuries Heal Best With Bed Rest?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 8, 2021

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

If you hurt or “throw out” your back while you’re at work or tending to your garden, one of the first things you’ll likely do is stop and take a little rest. Taking a break from physical activity is important after an acute spinal injury, but many people incorrectly assume that resting alone will help their spine get back to normal. Some spine injuries respond well to rest, while others need complementary treatment strategies. In today’s blog, we explain which back injuries respond well to rest, and which ones require more active interventions.

Which Back Injuries Can I Sleep Off?

Almost all forms of acute injuries are better off with some rest and relaxation, because this gives the body some stress-free time to repair itself. However, rest rarely gets you back to a pre-injury level of function, fitness and conditioning. Rest is good in the short-term, but it’s rarely the best long-term form of treatment.

With that said, here’s a look at a few back injuries that do tend to respond well to rest:

  • Spinal muscle tears
  • Muscle cramps
  • Soft tissue microtears from overstress
  • Spinal inflammation caused by repetitive motion

As you can see, that’s a pretty short list. That’s not to say that a pinched spinal nerve or a herniated disc won’t feel better if you lay down and rest, but resting will not address the root cause of your pain.

Instead, rest should be viewed as a complementary form of treatment to be paired with more active interventions. And while we don’t want to paint all back injuries with the same brush, a fair amount of spinal problems heal well with 24-48 hours of rest and limited stressing of the area followed by a combination of physical therapy, gentle exercise/stretching, anti-inflammatory medications, heat or ice therapy and posture improvements.

For more individualized advice, please consult with a spine specialist in your area, but know that these modalities will often be paired with physical activity limitation to drive home recovery. Because while tissue recovery is important, so too is strengthening the area to ensure it can return to normal function and be able to handle normal stress. If you don’t work to help strengthen the affected area, pain and injuries can return.

So at the end of the day, there are only a small fraction of spinal injuries that heal well with rest alone. More often than not, the advice you receive from your physician will include more than just laying in bed. It is careful movement patterns and therapeutic stretching and exercise that will target the underlying cause of pain and leave your spine ready to handle the rigors of your day.

For more information or for help with a spine injury that you’re struggling with, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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