Activity, Not Bed Rest, Best for Back Pain
What's the most common medical condition seen by primary care doctors? Hint: It's the same problem that causes most work absences and forces early retirement. The answer is low back pain. With so many people affected, what's the best treatment advice?

Researchers compared two treatment ideas. The first is staying active versus bed rest. The second is staying active versus exercise. Pain levels, activity levels, and absence from work were used as measures of outcome for each treatment.

Advice to stay active was no better or worse than advice to rest or exercise. Staying active or exercising didn't cause any more pain or problems. Patients are encouraged to be as active as possible, as early as possible. Staying in bed slows down healing and many other body functions.

People with acute back pain are best advised to stay as active as possible. It won't make the problem any worse, and it will avoid the dangers of too much inactivity.
KÃ¥re B. Hagen, PhD, et al. The Cochrane Review of Advice to Stay Active As a Single Treatment for Low Back Pain and Sciatica. In Spine. August 15, 2002. Vol. 27. No. 16. Pp. 1736-1741.