Staying Active and Low Back Pain
There are disagreements on how to best manage acute low back pain, see our prior blog post on physical therapy low back pain management (http://bit.ly/1JQDVfh), but one thing we all agree on is the harmful effects of bed rest on acute low back pain. Research has documented patients who rest have a higher degree of symptoms and recurrence rate, as well as, a prolonged recovery compared to those who choose an active approach including Physical Therapy and exercise. Acute low back pain has a good prognosis for recovery but this recovery can be accelerated through a specific Physical Therapy management strategy based on your symptoms. One key component of Physical Therapy has been educating the patient to stay active during this painful episode.
A recent prospective, randomized study (http://bit.ly/1Nd72fp) evaluated the effects of physical activity over the course of acute low back pain. These patients were randomized to either an education group of stay as active as possible in spite of the pain or to adjust their activity according to the pain. The authors noted those patients advised to stay active were more active than those told to modify their activities based on their symptoms. Both groups demonstrated a reduction in pain over time and neither group was superior on the course of their low back pain symptoms. Physical Activity has a positive impact on many musculoskeletal problems and the addition of Physical Therapy consistent with the literature and established guidelines may help accelerate this course of recovery above and beyond the advice to stay active. In the end staying active is important but the amount of activity based on these two education strategies does not seem to impact the course of recovery.