Throwing your back out is never a fun experience. One minute, you’re tending to your garden or getting up off the sofa, the next, you’re stooped over in pain. When this happens, what most people do is take a break. It is important to avoid too much physical activity after a back injury. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not rest is enough. Some injuries respond well to rest but others need some type of intervention. Here, we explore how to discern when rest is sufficient to recover from an acute spinal injury and when more active intervention is warranted.
Can I Sleep Off a Back Injury?
A back injury isn’t like a hangover or minor cold; it may not be something you can recover from with rest and relaxation. That said, rest is a good first step. Heading to a comfortable chair or bed to lie down after throwing out your back helps your body get its initial stress inflammation under control. With a few days off work or exercise, some conditions may resolve nicely. The few problems for which rest may be the only remedy include:
- Muscle cramps
- Inflammation resulting from repetitive motion
- Microtears in soft tissue resulting from over-stress
- Tears in a muscle near the spine
This isn’t a comprehensive list, as you can see. This isn’t to say that, if you lie down for some time, that the pain from a pinched nerve or herniated disc won’t feel better. It likely will. However, rest will not repair the problem so there is a good chance that pain will return. Rather than viewing rest as a treatment in itself, rest is something to pair with some other form of intervention. The vast majority of back injuries can recover well with rest, gentle exercise and stretching, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. Posture improvements may be necessary to help prevent a recurrence of the original injury.
A spinal injury is not something that should cause weeks or months of ongoing or recurring pain. If you’ve hurt your back and the pain is not resolving with conservative modalities, it is time to consult with a specialist. Rest and intervention are necessary for tissue recovery, but it is also important to explore the value of strengthening the area once repair has been achieved.
Don’t lie in bed wishing back pain away. Contact our Tampa office at (813) 920-3022. We are committed to helping our patients live pain-free.