Bed rest for back pain is an old fashioned treatment which is still prescribed for some symptomatic dorsopathy conditions today. Bed rest is difficult for any active patient, since it deprives them of their abilities to work and fulfill personal responsibilities. Bed rest is not appropriate for every back ache condition and might actually be counterproductive for many problematic pain syndromes.
Most physical therapists will recommend that patients with chronic pain do not allow themselves to languish in bed, but instead to try to move and get their body functional ASAP to avoid muscular atrophy, circulation concerns and other possible negative effects of extended inactivity.
Bed rest is a good therapeutic treatment for many forms of back injury. Acutely painful muscular or structural traumas require time to heal without being stressed. For recently injured back muscles, ligaments or discs, relaxing for a couple of days might be a very good idea. During this time, it is usually recommended to try and change positions in bed to prevent stiffness, as well as to increase circulation to the affected area.
Ice or wet heat might be a good addition to your relaxation time. Regardless of the cause of pain, most patients are advised to try not to prolong their time in bed to more than a few days.
Of course, it is wise to seek professional advice from your doctor if you have recently injured your back.
Bed rest is rarely a good idea for chronic or recurrent acute back pain conditions. Time spent in bed slows down circulatory response to the affected area, often prolonging the pain past its normal expectancy. Bed rest and traction treatments have proven themselves to be virtually useless for most ongoing spinal pain conditions.
Bed rest will not be of any assistance for psychosomatic back pain and will typically only delay an intensification of symptoms once the patient does decide to start moving around again. Often times, patients suffering from psychosomatic symptoms will eventually develop pain while reclining as well, making life a torturous nightmare with no end to their horrific suffering.
While bed rest is an adequate short term answer to sudden acute back pain, it is not an effective long-term solution. Most painful conditions will linger in a patient confined to bed and the fear of movement will grow stronger day by day. This fear can cause psychological symptom escalation, even in patients with verifiable physical back pain.
It is typically advised to try to move around and get the circulation going inside the body to speed healing. Blood which is slow moving or stagnant near the injury will increase inflammation and prevent the removal of cellular waste products which can cause, worsen and extend the duration pain. Even mild activity, such as standing and walking, is usually far better than lying about day after day.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about using bed rest as a treatment for your particular type of back ache. Never assume you will be confined to bed for an extended time, since this may only make your symptoms last longer. Be careful, but test your physical abilities regularly and try to integrate some gentle activity into your rest time.
A good general rule states that the longer you stay in bed, the longer your pain may last and the better the chances might be for a symptomatic recurrence in the near future.