After a long night’s sleep, you should wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and energized for a new day. But people suffering from chronic pain sometimes find that the morning is difficult because they wake up with intense pain to start the day.
Morning back pain can be frustrating, especially when you have a big day ahead of you. It’s important to address this issue so you can climb out of bed to get the kids breakfast and get yourself ready for a good workday.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain in the morning, then it might be time to talk to a specialist about your concerns.
Do You Have Lower Back Pain in the Morning?
Some people find that their back pain is worse in the morning, while others have more pain at the end of a long workday. It’s important to pay attention to the times when your pain spikes because it could be an indication of the cause of your pain.
It’s estimated that about 65 million people in the United States have experienced recent back pain, with about 16 million people having chronic back pain problems. When this pain persists, it can disrupt all aspects of daily living, making it hard to keep up with your responsibilities at home and work.
Not only does back pain make it difficult to get through the day, but this health concern can also be expensive. Direct costs include doctor’s visits, therapy appointments, pain medication, massage, and other services to reduce or eliminate the pain. Indirect costs of chronic back pain include missed work or lost opportunities because you aren’t feeling up to the job.
Even though back pain is a common complaint, you don’t have to suffer from this discomfort indefinitely. Modern medical treatments might be used to help you manage the pain, so you can return to a normal, healthy lifestyle once again.
Every situation is unique, so the treatment outcomes vary. The most important step is to identify the root cause of your back pain. Then, a customized treatment plan can be designed to alleviate your discomfort.
Why Is My Lower Back Pain Worse in the Morning?
Persistent back pain in the morning could be caused by many factors that are stressing your back while you are sleeping.
Some of the most common issues that contribute to morning back pain include:
- Sleeping Position: It’s possible that the way you are sleeping at night is putting a strain on your spine. Pay attention to your sleeping posture by noticing your body position when you go to sleep, wake up during the night, and get up in the morning. Some of these sleeping positions cause the natural curve of the spine to flatten, which can lead to morning back pain. Avoid sleeping on your stomach because it puts pressure on the lower spine. Instead, try sleeping on your back with a pillow beneath your knees.
- Mattress Quality: Investing in a good mattress might be the best thing you can do to reduce morning back pain. If you have a mattress that is more than 10 years old, then you might not have enough support for your body while you are sleeping. A quality mattress is a great investment because it reduces stress on the body and helps to improve sleep quality, which results in reduced back pain. Factors that influence the quality of a mattress include thickness, materials, firmness, your weight, and your preferred sleeping positions.
- Disc Degeneration: People with degenerative disc disease experience age-related wear and tear that affects the spinal discs (located between the vertebrae in your back). When the discs deteriorate, it can result in intense pain, often worsening in the morning hours. Sometimes, this pressure is higher in the morning, causing extreme discomfort when you get out of bed.
- Spinal Stenosis: A narrowing of the spaces around the spine can compress the nerves, leading to back pain. Sometimes, this condition is affected by the way you sleep, causing more pressure to be placed on the nerves during the night. The pain and/or numbness can radiate from the back into other areas of the body such as the arms, legs, and neck.
- Herniated Discs: If the soft discs become inflamed, then a herniation effect occurs that can result in pain. Many people find that inactivity exacerbates herniated discs, which is why the back pain is higher in the morning hours.
This list outlines some of the most common reasons why you might be experiencing back pain in the morning.
But other underlying health conditions could be contributing as well. For example, it’s important to work with a team of medical experts to see if the pain is affected by osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, depression, smoking, fibromyalgia, or other lifestyle factors.
Treatment for Morning Back Pain
What should you do if you often wake up with back pain in the morning? The first step is to talk to a pain specialist to find the underlying cause that could be contributing to your issues. Sometimes, a simple lifestyle change can make the biggest difference – such as replacing your old bed with a quality mattress.
Here are a few other tips that might make it easier for you to get through the day:
- Morning Stretching: Wake up your muscles and joints by gently stretching before you get out of bed. Bring your knees to your chest to get a lower-back stretch. Also, stretch your arms above your head and reach your feet in the opposite direction. Pay attention to the tight areas of your body, then talk to a physical therapist or doctor about the stretches that could help your situation.
- Core Strength: Building the muscles in your core can improve your overall body structure, helping to reduce the back pain you are experiencing. No, we’re not talking about hundreds of crunches each day – because certain ab exercises can exacerbate the problem. A physical therapist can provide personalized recommendations, which might include planks, stretching, gentle cardio, and other tips to support the overall structure of your body.
- Medications: When the pain is intense, then medication can provide immediate relief to dull the discomfort. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs or acetaminophen. For severe back pain, prescription medications can sometimes be used. But you need to be careful to avoid dependence on these pain relievers. Medication should be used as a short-term strategy until you can address the root problem.
Every situation is unique, which is why it is important to work with medical providers to address the cause of your chronic back pain. A customized plan can help you overcome these challenges, so you feel great when you get out of bed in the morning.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain, then our team invites you to schedule a consultation to learn more about available treatment options. At Orthopedic Associates, we offer a full-service approach to treatment everything from chronic pain to sports injuries and more. Contact our team to book an appointment.