The RCGP - Clinical and Special Projects, Clinical Guidelines, Acute Low Back Pain. Contents, Index page


Chapter 3

Principal Recommendations
Linked to Evidence

Diagnostic Triage
Use of X-Rays
Drug Therapy
Bed Rest
Advice on Staying Active
Back Exercises



Bed Rest


Recommendations Evidence

Bed Rest

Do not recommend or use bed rest as a treatment for simple back pain.

The aim is to use symptomatic measures to control pain to let patients return to normal activity as rapidly as possible and to minimise bed rest. Some patients may initially be confined to bed as a consequence of their pain but this should not be considered as a treatment.

Short periods of bed rest are commonly used to treat disc prolapse, but there is little evidence that this is effective treatment.

For acute or recurrent LBP with or without referred leg pain, bed rest for 2-7 days is worse than placebo or ordinary activity. It is not as effective as the alternative treatments to which it has been compared for relief of pain, rate of recovery, return to daily activities and days lost from work.
Prolonged bed rest may lead to debilitation, chronic disability and increasing difficulty in rehabilitation.
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