BED REST for back pain - yay or nay?



Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness in Belfield provides servicing to many near by Inner West suburbs including Belmore, Strathfield and Croydon park. See our weekly blog below if you are interested in new research, facts, general information or ideas.


Here's a crazy statistic for ya ... 

The ABS from 2015 showed about 3.7 million Australians have lower back pain. It is shown that 70-90% of people will at some stage of their lives suffer from back pain. 


Today what we are going to discuss is a common misconception, and I believe an odd and false management strategy when having lower back pain... BED REST!


We struggled to find recent literature investigating the impact of bed rest on back pain. Nevertheless, we found a 2015 Systematic Review that showed several papers with the same physiological effects. 


So let's begin, two papers compared advice to rest in bed with advice to stay active for patients with sciatica. They found:

  • Functional status had a borderline significant difference at 3-4 week follow‐up in favour of staying active 

The other papers in this review were given low weight because of the unequal baseline values, validity was low and the general population was questionable etc. But here comes my professional opinion on this matter:

But what about the deconditioning effects of bed rest - generally speaking old fashioned health professionals use old evidence to show that bed rest (of up to 5 days) will benefit by reducing pain. Being a physiotherapist, I cant tell you the amount of times I have had a new patient walk in with advice given by a health professional to do so... and as such, a challenge for physiotherapists is then improving not only the pain present (as Bed Rest didn't work as they expected), but more so utilising effective methods to restore physical capacity of patients after prolonged bed rest.

Here is our tip:

  • If you have back pain, STAY CLEAR OF BED REST! Although this may seem like a great idea, given that it consists of the word 'rest'. Bed rest will contribute to muscle deconditioning that will further rehabilitation to reduce stiffness in joints and muscles. As opposed to Bed Rest - SEE A PHYSIO!!!! … Physiotherapy will help to loosen your joints, reduce muscle tension, take the compression of the disc away from your nerve and reduce the sensitivity of the nerve. 

This information can be used to gain a better understanding of back pain. To find out more about how we can help your back pain, or to book in for a consultation you can contact us via our Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness contact us page, or book online here.


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Written by Michael


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