Warning: Lying down in the name of herniated disc pain is not a smart decision.
Pain in the back (or radiating down the buttocks and/or the leg) from a herniated disc?
It may seem logical to just lie down whenever the pain becomes aggravating, even if this is on a frequent basis.
In fact, this is the advice by medical professionals in years past. And it seemed to make sense. After all, if something hurts, give it some rest by not moving it, right?
And the best way to keep a body part, especially the back, immobile is to get a lot of bed rest.
However, this way of thinking is being overhauled.
Just what are the guidelines for bed rest in those with a painful herniated disc?
“Two to three days of bed rest or recumbency are recommended for a patient with an acute disk herniation,” says Stephen T. Onesti, MD, a neurosurgeon specializing in the spine, with Neurological Surgery P.C. of Long Island. Acute means sudden-onset.
“After this, it is recommended the patient be mobilized and get into therapy and pain management quickly.
“If there are neurological deficits [e.g., leg weakness] or extreme pain, consultation with a spine surgeon is recommended.”
Excessive Bed Rest Will Worsen Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
“It is important that patients do not spend too long on bed rest,” says Dr. Onesti. “Recumbency results in negative metabolic effects and is psychologically debilitating.”
One may begin feeling as though they are on the disabled list from all that time in bed being unproductive.
Furthermore, unwanted weight gain can easily result over time, fueling the feeling of powerlessness.
Dr. Onesti adds, “Also, it is usually not necessary to see a spine surgeon right away. Rehabilitation doctors, chiropractors, neurologists and pain management specialists are also effective providers.”
Dr. Onesti is a board certified neurosurgeon specializing in spine surgery and surgical treatment of chronic pain. He has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals and has given numerous presentations at local and national meetings.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.