Why can simply lying in bed be a bad idea when I have back pain?

Ronald B. Tolchin, DO
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Much depends on the severity and location of the back pain. Your sleeping or lying position, along with other factors that include weight, can further strain your back. Make sure you have good support for your back if you are lying on your back. If your resting position is on the side, you may need a pillow between your knees to prevent slight rotations of your lower spine. 
Some studies indicate that too much bed rest (usually more than two days) is counterproductive for relieving back pain, and that continuing normal activities leads to a quicker recovery. The spine needs motion for moving nutrients to the vertebral discs. A lack of motion can cause loss of strength and slow or impair the spine’s ability to heal.
Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Prolonged resting with back pain is like having a sprained ankle and letting the swelling settle and stiffen. With prolonged rest, an inflamed back can stiffen and make the patient feel more tight and less mobile. Muscle atrophy can also occur making the muscles around the back less supportive. In the long run, it can make patients more vulnerable to further injury. It is important for patients to rest for a short time with very severe pain. Once pain calms, it is important for patients to move without causing aggravation.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Actually, just lying in your bed or on the floor with back pain (unless you're performing certain stretches) will only accomplish one thing: It will make the pain worse. The way to bounce back is to make sure that you're up and around, moving your muscles, working them back into shape. We're not suggesting that you sign up for the local rugby team if you just pulled your back. But walking around the house is more productive - and more healing - than sitting around it. That's why married folks recover slower than those living alone; if you're being waited on hand and foot, why give up a good thing? But you might be penalizing yourself by lounging in bed and taking advantage of your loved one's concern.

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Back Pain

Back Pain

Just about everyone has experienced some level of back pain. It is one of the most common ailments brought on by disease, injury, or misalignment of the spine. It can be a dull muscle ache in the lower back or a severe, sharp pain ...

in that affects your ability to bend over or stand up straight. Most often back pain results from strained muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, but it can also be caused by structural problems with the bones of the spine. There are treatment options for back pain, and understanding the causes and symptoms is key to preventing it in the first place.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.