Waking up with back pain often indicates a problem with sleeping posture, mattress or pillows. However, morning back pain can sometimes be a symptom of a health problem. Waking up with a sore back can slow down the start of the day. Determining the cause of the pain can help her identify ways to deal with the problem and wake up to calmer mornings.
Here are some of the possible causes of waking back pain, along with the associated treatment options. Read on for tips on how to relieve back pain and when to contact a doctor.
Why do I have back pain when I wake up?
Back pain can be short-lived (acute) or last longer than 12 weeks (chronic). Most back pain is acute and gets better after a few days with proper home care. If the pain persists, a person may need to contact a doctor to determine if there is an underlying cause.
There are a number of reasons why a person may have back pain when they wake up. Some possibilities are described below.
1 Degenerative disc disease
With age, the natural wear and tear on the vertebrae and discs of the back can lead to narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal. Doctors call this narrowing “vertebral arthritis” or “degenerative disc disease” (DD). Degenerative disc disease can compress spinal nerves, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility that typically affects the lower back or neck. The pain can range from mild to very severe and can radiate to other parts of the body. Symptoms may be worse in the morning and may even interfere with sleep.
Other possible symptoms of a DD are:
– weak leg muscles or foot drop
– numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
– pain that may be worse when sitting down, lifting objects or bending over.
– pain that eases with walking, moving or changing position.
Treatment of degenerative disc disease
Treatment options for a DD include
– taking painkillers
– the application of ice packs and heat
– temporary wearing of a back corset
– undergo physical therapy
– try alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or chiropractic.
If symptoms are severe, the doctor may recommend surgery, such as disc replacement or spinal fusion.
Morning back pain and stiffness are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. It is a chronic disorder that can cause pain and tenderness in many parts of the body.
Other possible symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
– difficulty sleeping
– problems with memory and concentration, sometimes called “fibromyalgia fog”.
– irritable bowel syndrome
– numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.
Treatment for fibromyalgia depends on the person’s symptoms, but generally includes the following
– anti-inflammatory drugs
– lifestyle changes, such as:
◦ exercise regularly
◦ a good diet
◦ make appropriate changes to the work environment
– complementary therapies, which may include:
◦ massage therapy
◦ chiropractic treatments
Here are some steps people with fibromyalgia can take to reduce morning back pain:
– do stretching exercises before getting out of bed, for example by bringing the knees towards the chest or by extending each arm in front and across the body.
– take a hot shower immediately after getting out of bed to promote circulation and loosen tight muscles
– make sure the bedroom is at a comfortable temperature
– use pillows to position the body in such a way as to minimize strain on the back.
3 Exercising too much the night before
Regular exercise can help strengthen the back and reduce back pain. However, excessive exercise at the gym or while playing sports can lead to morning back pain and stiffness. It is important for a person to pay attention to their posture during and after any intense physical activity. Proper warming up and cooling down can also help reduce back pain and muscle stiffness the next day.
Treatment of overexertion
The following measures may help relieve the symptoms of exercise-related back pain:
– apply hot or cold compresses to the affected area
– take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
4 Getting out of bed inappropriately
How a person gets out of bed can play a huge role in preventing morning pain. Even if a person is well rested, getting up too quickly or leaning too far forward when getting out of bed can put pressure on the back. To reduce the risk of morning back pain and stiffness, a person should take the following steps:
– Start by moving slowly towards the edge of the bed.
– Using your arms as leverage, get into a sitting position with your legs hanging over the side of the bed.
– After taking a few seconds to adjust to this position, slowly lower your feet to the floor and stand up.
5 Bad sleeping posture
Certain sleeping postures can put extra pressure on your lower back, hips, and neck.
It is not always necessary to completely change your usual sleeping position to relieve back pain. Instead, a person can place pillows around their body for extra support while they sleep in whatever position they find most comfortable.
For example :
– Back sleepers can try placing a pillow under their knees to better align the spine and reduce lower back pain.
– People who sleep on their side benefit from placing a pillow between their legs to better align their hips and spine.
– People who sleep on their stomachs can place a pillow under their abdomen to reduce the curvature of the lower back.
If a person’s symptoms do not improve with the use of pillows, they should consider other potential causes of morning back pain.
6 Poorly supported mattress
Mattresses that do not fully support a person’s weight or build can lead to morning back pain. Manufacturers generally recommend that people replace their mattress every ten years or so. Signs that a mattress needs replacing can be visible sag or indentations where the person slept. When buying a new mattress, it is important to choose a mattress that is both comfortable and fully supportive. Some manufacturers offer an extended trial period that allows a person to return a mattress after several weeks or months if they are not completely satisfied with the product.
Lower back pain is a common problem. Lower back pain is a common musculoskeletal condition during pregnancy, and it can occur in the morning. The prevalence of low back pain during pregnancy varies between 30 and 78%.
There are many reasons for lower back pain during pregnancy, including:
– the increased release of hormones, including relaxin and progesterone, which soften the pelvic ligaments and joints, potentially reducing back support
– the extra weight of the fetus which requires additional back support
– the person’s center of gravity shifts forward due to the growth of the fetus.
Back pain associated with pregnancy usually goes away. after childbirth. Exercising can decrease the severity of back pain during pregnancy, but does not decrease the likelihood of suffering from back pain during pregnancy.
How to relieve lower back pain
If back pain does not get better on its own, a person may find relief by using one or more of the methods below:
– Over-the-counter pain relief like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
– Muscle relaxants: These prescription medications relax tight muscles and can help relieve muscle pain in the back. However, a 2021 study found that muscle relaxants are generally ineffective for chronic lower back pain and their long-term use may increase the risk of side effects. A person who is considering taking muscle relaxants should discuss this with their doctor.
– Hot and cold therapy: Applying heat or ice packs to the lower back can reduce pain and inflammation and help improve movement.
– Gentle stretches: Gentle stretches can relieve pain and improve mobility in the lower back. However, you should first discuss this with your doctor to make sure that stretching does not make your symptoms worse.
When to contact a doctor
A person should contact a doctor if their morning back pain does not improve with self-care measures. It is important to seek prompt medical treatment for severe pain that interferes with movement and daily activities. A person should also see a doctor as soon as possible if back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
– bowel or bladder problems
– numbness or weakness of the arms or legs
– shortness of breath
In some cases, the doctor may recommend tests to help identify the underlying cause of back pain. These may include nerve conduction studies or imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans.
Waking up with back pain is often the result of sleep patterns or the body straining too much during physical activity. However, morning back pain can also be a symptom of certain pathologies, such as fibromyalgia and DD. A doctor should be consulted if back pain does not improve with self-care measures, such as trying a different sleeping position or a new mattress. It is also important to contact a doctor if you have severe back pain that limits movement or the ability to perform daily activities.