Is it better to rest or exercise with back pain? An expert tells you

Every sort of back pain doesn’t need rest or surgery. Some can be relieved by way of exercise and lifestyle modifications. Read what an expert has to say!

Back pain can be very debilitating and have a lot of repercussions for those suffering from it. Often, we are told to slow down, take rest and avoid exercise if we suffer from back pain. But people tend to forget that taking care of the spine with some exercises can actually help lower the chances of experiencing acute back pain.

People need to practice better body mechanics. The way a person moves or does their daily tasks and activities can markedly reduce the likelihood of a spinal injury.

back pain
From posture to injury – there can be multiple causes of back pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Bipin S Walia, Principal Director and Head – Neurosurgery at Max Superspeciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi, says, “It is a wrong notion that back pain needs prolonged rest and no exercise. Regular, moderate exercise can actually help in avoiding pain.”

Exercise is important to avoid back pain and for your spine’s sake

The expert stresses on the fact that to stay healthy, your spine needs a regimen of stretching, strengthening and aerobic conditioning exercises such as swimming, yoga, light weights and walking. “Without exercise, muscles can become weak and de-conditioned, leading to back pain and injury. Work with a spine specialist to find the right mix of exercise to help you stay healthy, strong and pain-free,” suggests Dr Walia.

Spinal degeneration, he points out, is a part of the normal aging process. A majority of patients may have no symptoms or some mild discomfort in the low back. In others, it may be severe enough to affect their quality of life and some may not even be able to walk.

The most common problem in the aging spine is stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal, compressing the spinal nerves. This produces pain in the buttocks, thigh or leg that develops with standing or walking, and improves with rest.

In some cases, a patient will complain of leg pain and weakness without having any back pain. More severe symptoms can include numbness, unusual sensations or weakness in the lower extremities.

The vast majority of symptomatic patients with spinal degenerative disorders require no surgery. They can improve with exercise, modification of lifestyle, physiotherapy etc.

Also Read: These 6 stretching exercises for lower back pain will help you out in no time

back pain
The fire hydrant exercise can help you mitigate back pain! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Surgery for back pain

Surgery is required for the few who have severe pain despite medical treatment, limb weakness or if quality of life is affected.

Today, spine surgery is safe with experienced hands and technology such as O-Arm imaging, intra-operative nerve monitoring, navigation, and powered tools. With a minimally invasive procedure, surgeons can achieve similar results and objectives of traditional surgery by using imaging systems, tiny cameras, and skin incisions about the size of a thumbnail.

Surgeons are able to work precisely in smaller surgical fields with less tissue splitting. This type of procedure can offer patients physical and aesthetic advantages.

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