The roles of bedrest, antiinflammatory medication, and analgesic medication in the treatment of acute back strain were objectively analyzed to determine whether they have a measurable effect on the return of patients to full daily activities as well as on the relief of pain. Two hundred patients were studied prospectively. Each patient had the diagnosis of acute back strain, which was defined as nonradiating low-back pain. The results of the patient's neurologic examination, straight leg raising test, and lumbosacral spine roentgenograms had to be within normal limits for the patient to be included in the study. The results showed that bedrest, as compared with ambulation, will decrease the amount of time lost from work by 50%. Bedrest will also decrease the amount of discomfort by 60%. Analgesic medication, when combined with bedrest, will further decrease the amount of pain incurred, particularly when used in the first three days of the healing process. However, analgesic medication will not allow a more prompt return to work. Antiinflammatory medication, when added to bedrest in the treatment of lumbago, does not provide an advantage over bedrest alone.