I am often asked if individuals should rest their back or work through their pain. In general, relative rest has been recommended for individuals with new onset, or “acute” low back pain (LBP). What is relative rest? Basically, patients with an acute episode of LBP should avoid activities that aggravate their condition. If you were injured at work, maybe some time off or specific restrictions are required to allow your back to heal. Maybe you were injured playing a sport. This would necessitate time off of that particular activity. While you are taking time off from the activity that has caused your injury, there are other activities that you could be performing. This may help promote healing and lessen the degree of deconditioning that comes with complete bed rest.
As always, if you are suffering from a low back injury, you should check in with your family physician or local spine specialist. They will help determine the source of your pain. If your condition does not require surgical or advanced medical intervention, you might be referred for physical therapy. Your physical therapist will prescribe some activities or exercises for you to perform during this period of relative rest.
In summary, the joints in our body need to move to stay healthy, and that includes the spine. Movement allows nutrients to move in and out of our joints, resulting in general wellness or healing. Choosing the wrong activities or exercises to perform after any injury can lead to further damage and prolonged recovery time. With the help of your physical therapist, you can work together to discover what exercises work best for you and your condition.
About The Author: Jeremy W. Przybylo, PT, DPT, DMT is the Prairie Spine and Pain Institute’s lead physical therapist. He is a key component of our integrated care program. Jeremy works one-on-one with patients to perform an initial evaluation that allows him to design a comprehensive treatment program tailored to each individual. He typically works with patients weekly, utilizing a combination of hands on manual therapeutic techniques and a scientific approach to rehabilitative exercise.