Acute low back pain is defined as any pain in the lower back that is consistently present for up to six weeks. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), “Acute low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common reasons for adults to see a family physician.” In fact, approximately 85-percent of the US population has experienced acute LBP at least once in their lifetime.
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LBP has a myriad of causes including muscle sprain/strain, degenerative disc disease (DDD), spinal stenosis, sciatica, and scoliosis. The vast majority of cases (90-percent) of acute LBP, regardless of cause, resolve in six weeks. Ten treatments to consider for the treatment of LBP include…
1. Bed Rest
The goals of treatment for acute LBP are to relieve pain, improve function, reduce time off from work, and develop coping strategies through education. Bed rest should be limited or avoided all together in those experiencing acute LBP. A few decades ago, the advice may have been to get several days of bed rest. Today, it is more advisable to modify activity and keep moving.
Researchers at Harvard report “well-designed clinical trials suggest that an early return to normal activities—with some rest as needed—is better than staying home from work for an extended period.” Bed rest is less effective at reducing pain and improving function at three to 12-weeks than advice to stay active. Prolonged bed rest increases the risk of adverse effects such as constipation, joint stiffness, pressure (decubitus) ulcers, loss of bone mineral density (BMD), muscle wasting, and venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins below the calves and in the lungs).