The Oldest Remedy in History: Bed Rest
June 21, 2016
Bed rest has been prescribed by doctors for a long time and for many reasons. Whether a patient is sick, recovering from surgery or having a complicated pregnancy, she is often instructed to be on bed rest.
But bed rest can be a vague term.
Can you use the bathroom? What about lying on the couch? Or does it mean hanging around at home and being off work?
During pregnancy, patients are most commonly put on bed rest for vaginal bleeding, miscarriage, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, preterm labor, and premature rupture of membranes. This is typically when the pregnancy is labelled "high risk" – another vague term that is commonly used for many pregnancy complications.
There may be some benefits for bed rest including psychological relief from stress at work and at home.
However, as everything in life come at a price, bed rest has it is own risks, namely blood clots, delay in bodily functions like constipation, nausea, vomiting, retention of urine, muscle atrophy, weaker bones and joint pain. Also, it may have a financial burden and psychological effect leading to depression.
In medical literature, there is no evidence that bed rest is effective in preventing , delaying, or curing the conditions mentioned above. In other words, no scientific evidence that bed rest will improve outcomes of a complicated pregnancy exists.
So, will physicians stop recommending bed rest? I say, not anytime soon because bed rest may psychologically relieve the doctor more than the patient.