How To Deal With Upper Back Pain After Sleeping
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Upper back pain is a very common complaint. According to a study published in the Occupational Medicine Journal, 1 out of 10 men and 1 out of 5 women is affected by upper back pain. Your thoracic spine, which is the longest and least flexible part of your spinal column, is instrumental in the upper back pain that youre having right now, especially before and after sleeping. If you experience waking up to a not-so-good feeling on a regular basis because of the discomfort in your upper back, you know this is something you should fix right away.
So what causes that upper back pain that you feel after sleeping? Factors that contribute to your discomfort range from muscle pain to poor sleep posture. Fortunately, most of these problems can be fixed easily by making some lifestyle adjustments, but some can point towards potentially serious health problems such as fibromyalgia. Find out the reason behind your upper back pain and stop the vicious cycle of morning pain after sleeping for a few hours.
When Is Middle Back Pain While Sleeping Serious
Most cases of middle back pain while sleeping are not serious. It is certainly disruptive, annoying, and even upsetting, but the underlying causes do not pose an immediate health risk. The symptoms can be safely treated with more conservative remedies.
However, as mentioned earlier, some middle back pain causes are more serious than others. If your middle back pain is accompanied by numbness and/or tingling, there may be underlying nerve damage. This can be caused by multiple conditions, some potentially dangerous, so its important to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Further, any middle back pain that occurs with loss of feeling in your limbs or loss of bowel control is an emergency condition. Contact your doctor immediately if this occurs.
In addition, if youve tried some basic at-home remedies and your symptoms are still so severe that you cant sleep well, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can. Without proper rest, your body and mind will quickly become exhausted. Any and all medical issues that prevent you from sleeping properly should be taken care of as quickly as possible.
Why Your Mattress Matters For Back Pain
If youre waking up with back pain, you may be sleeping on the wrong mattress. However, your bed is typically not the cause of back pain. In any case, a good mattress can help relieve issues that cause back pain.
A good mattress that is well suited to your needs will help to align your spine. This alignment can alleviate aches and pains. People who suffer from lower back pain should look for a mattress that doesnt put pressure on pain points, particularly the shoulders and sacrum. These beds are typically firm enough that your shoulders dont sink, but soft enough to feel comfortable. Look for a 5-7 rating on the mattress firmness scale .
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What Do You Do About Trigger Points And Fibromyalgia
Those are both big, separate topics, but there are many resources on PainScience.com where you can get started. Self-massage and heating are by far the best ways to start working on muscle knots. Fibromyalgia is much more complicated, but the basics are sleep improvements, lots of light but thorough exercise, and learning about sensitization and the weirdness of pain.
Are There Psychological Factors That Drive Morning Pain
The book Back Sense proposes that morning back pain is caused by stressful night-time mental patterns manifesting as back pain. I do not generally dismiss the role of psychology in back pain. Its actually a major theme in my writing about back pain. See The Mind Game in Low Back Pain. But I do think that author is indulging in a simplistic mind-body connection theory. Ive written crankily about this kind of logic elsewhere .
Its a bit of a reach to say that you have such a problematic, pain-causing mental state like clockwork every morning between 6am and 7am exclusively. Applying How to Simplify Chronic Pain Puzzles to the problem, it is much more likely that there is simply a time limit on how long you can lie in bed without tissue crankiness.
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Myofascial Pain Syndrome And/or Fibromyalgia
There are two common causes for widespread moderate body pain, both somewhat mysterious and controversial, both known for affecting the back more than other areas, and both known for their morning hijinks:
Theres likely lots of overlap between these conditions. Fibromyalgia isnt really an explanatory diagnosis it just labels a common pattern of symptoms that could have several different causes. MPS is a hypothetical problem with muscle tissue that is a possile explanation for some body pain, and that type of pain is extremely common in fibromyalgia patients.
Fibromyalgia is associated with morning back pain because:
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The Ideal Sleep Position: On Your Back
The best position to avoid back pain is lying flat on your back. Even so, many people find it the hardest way to enjoy deep sleep. For optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath your head or neck and another underneath your knees. If youre pregnant, however, you should avoid this position because it decreases blood circulation to the heart and baby.
Herniated Or Bulging Disc
You have discs all along your spine in between each pair of vertebrae. Each disc is filled with a jelly-like substance that keeps your backbones from grinding against each other when you move.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs breaks open. A bulging disc is a similar condition, but instead of breaking open, the disc slips out of place and the inner substance bulges outwards but doesnt rupture. Both conditions may be asymptomatic, or they may cause symptoms like pain, numbness, and weakness.
Herniated and bulging discs affect both the surrounding vertebrae and, often, the nearby nerves. These injuries are most common in the lower back, but they can also occur in the middle and upper back and even in the neck.
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Should You Get An Adjustment
It is a very wise idea to get a wellness adjustment from your chiropractor before you go mattress shopping. This can help relieve pain and help you have better posture and body support while you sleep. Ask your chiropractor for advice on sleeping positions, as well as recommendations for mattresses. Not only is your chiropractor a back expert, but he has probably heard a lot of recommendations from his patients who suffered from mattress-induced back pain.
Other Signs Of Inflammatory Back Pain
Back pain at night is one of the more obvious clues for inflammatory back pain, but there are other key signs to keep in mind as well. There are slightly different sets of criteria for inflammatory back pain, but generally speaking they include the following:
- Back pain improves with exercise or activity
- Back pain gets worse with rest
- Back pain in the morning that lasts more than 30 minutes
- Gradual, not sudden, onset
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The Worst Sleep Position: On Your Stomach
Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your spine, according to Raymond J. Hah, MD, a spine surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical orthopedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. This position puts the most pressure on your spines muscles and joints because it flattens the natural curve of your spine, he says. Sleeping on your stomach also forces you to turn your neck, which can cause neck and upper back pain.
Research shows that theres a correlation between pain and sleep, so it makes sense to incorporate simple changes in your sleep style that alleviate back pain and less pain means better sleep.
Symptoms Of Middle Back Pain
Usually, the symptoms depend upon the underlying reason for the pain. Some of the most common symptoms of the middle backache are:
- Dull type of pain and discomfort below the neck
- Sometimes sharp or stabbing pain is felt
- Tightness, pain and stiffness is felt in muscles
Apart from these, some more serious symptoms may also happen:
- Tingling sensations in the upper or lower extremities and chest
- Weakness in both upper and lower limbs
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction, either continence or incontinence
Additionally, if you suffer from chronic back pain in general, but it tends to get worse in the morning, or if the pain persists, it is recommended to seek medical advice in case there could be something serious causing these symptoms.
Upon receiving a diagnosis, you may be able to choose from some of the following treatment options, that depend both on the cause of your pain, as well as intensity:
- Physical therapy
- Surgical intervention
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You Need A New Mattress
Having a cozy sleep setup is also key to avoiding back pain after sleeping. Snooze on a comfortable, supportive mattress that holds your spine in a neutral position, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
âThe fix:â If you have an old or uncomfortable mattress, consider getting a new innerspring or foam mattress to support your spine, per the Cleveland Clinic, which may help you avoid mid-back pain after sleeping.
You can also opt for a foam mattress topper to take your current bedding to the next level.
The Scariest Type Of Morning Back Pain: Inflammatory Back Pain
The closest thing to back pain that is truly prominent in the morning is inflammatory back pain , or spondyloarthritis. Although IBP is well known to medical science, it often eludes diagnosis, its biology is mysterious, and morning symptoms specifically are a stumper, as unexplained as joints that ache before a storm. Its just something IBP does.
But dont panic! Although studies have confirmed that morning is a common time for inflammatory back pain to flare up, they have also shown that the connection is not strong or exclusive. In fact, most morning stiffness and pain is not pathologically inflammatory. Its just that IBP is the only official morning back pain culprit.
The pain of IBP tends to be quite severe. If its not actually waking you up, its probably not IBP, or its a minor case.
When should you consider the possibility of IBP? Basically if your morning back is particularly bad: nasty and very consistent morning symptoms. The diagnosis is also more likely if you have other signs of this kind of back pain. Heres a good inflammatory back pain quiz, and heres my own quick checklist of reasons to ask your doctor about spondyloarthritis:
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Side Sleeping: A Solid Runner
Side sleeping with your legs straight is the second-best position for avoiding back and neck pain. Its also a good position for snorers or anyone with sleep apnea because it keeps your airways open. If you can, stretch your legs out straight and tuck a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral alignment.
Another type of side sleeping with your legs bent upwards is less ideal for your back. Known as the fetal position, it may be the most popular sleep style, but it promotes an uneven distribution of weight that can cause back pain and sore joints. Try straightening your body into a relaxed position by untucking your chin and adjusting your knees. If youre pregnant, its a comfortable way to take the weight from your back.
Morning Baths Are Almost Miraculous For Some Kinds Of Morning Back Pain
A hot bath is one of the oldest medicines. While most people appreciate a nice hot bath, few people think of it as a serious treatment for back pain just something that takes the edge off. Maybe.
But for morning back pain, it can be incredibly effective. Reader C.B. writes:
I am 73 with assorted age-related issues, but this low back pain every morning is new. Here is what I do: I run a hot bath, and jump in and immediately the pain goes away, all of it. Why would that be, and what does it mean?
C. is not alone: many people report near rapid, profound relief from morning back pain. Baths seem to be at their best in this context, and its not clear why. When a bath has an immediate, profound effect on pain, its probably because immersion/flotation is a fairly potent dose of novel sensory input, which can very persuasively tell the brain that theres no need for the alarm of pain. This may be more pronounced with some kinds of pain that are aggravated by gravity, so the partial flotation might be directly relieving.
And then, by the time you get out of the bath, the relatively transient phenomenon of morning back pain is already retreating and perhaps even faster because of some thermal effects .
P.S. Showers may be just as good! Or nearly as good. It would be nice if I could cite a nice, well-controlled trial of this, but thats probably never going to happen.
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Got Back Pain When Sleeping Heres How To Fix It
One of those unfortunate signs of getting older is waking up stiff and sore. If you typically experience back pain from sleeping funny or even when sleeping in what should be a comfortable bed, there are things you can do ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, not in pain and searching for an ice pack.
Why Does My Back Hurt More In The Morning
There are many reasons why some people might experience back pain when they wake up in the morning. Morning back pain is often attributed to the morning being the most vulnerable time for your spine.
This vulnerability can be due to what you do before bed or how you sleep, but your back pain might also be a sign of an underlying issue with your nervous system.
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Pillow Use For Stomach Sleepers
Stomach sleeping, also known as prone sleeping, is a very problematic sleep posture. Stomach sleepers put too much pressure and unnecessary tension on their rotator cuff tendons, facet joints, stomach, neck, spinal cord, and back muscles. Medical professionals advise patients to avoid it altogether. The sleeping posture also requires the neck to be rotated to one side for breathing purposes, further increasing your risks of getting a stiff neck.
Pillows do not do a good job of support with this position. However, you can try putting a flat pillow under your stomach to increase the length of your lower back curve. This further relaxes the muscles and rotator cuff tendons. You can try propping your head with a pillow to retain your bodys natural alignment during your sleep.
Correct positioning is essential to ease back pain. Although pillows may be effective, they often fall out of place during sleep. The best way to eliminate, or at least curb, upper back pain is to ensure a good nights sleep. That is best achieved by using an adjustable bed frame that can put the spine in a neutral position that does not strain the vertebrae, muscles, or joints. A good mattress is also essential. It should cushion the bodys joints. The best way to avoid upper back pain after sleeping is by ensuring you get a good restorative sleep every night.
Pain In The Middle Back Due To A Tense Diaphragm
At middle back height, the diaphragm also connects internally to the vertebrae. The mid riff or diaphragm is a large horizontal muscle. Tensing of the diaphragm can cause a lot of pain in the back. This is in particular the case when your diaphragm is tense, for instance due to stress. A tensed diaphragm also causes shallow breathing, so that we pull more on our shoulders, and this causes again extra tension of the upper fibres of the trapezius muscle. A good nights sleep ensures proper relaxation of the diaphragm.
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Woke Up With Back Pain Here’s What Your Body Is Trying To Tell You
You want to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day, but instead you roll out of bed with an achey spine. So, what exactly are the causes of back pain after sleeping?
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Having backaches after you rise and shine suggests that a number of factors could be at play â often problems that irritate the various tissues of your back, says Richmond, Virginia-based David Drake, MD, medical director of the Interventional Pain Clinic at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“When you look at back pain, there are different layers: The outer layer the fascia, which is a covering over the muscle with a lot of nerves in it. The next layer is the muscle, and the layer after that is where the bones are located â that would be the facet joints,” he says. “If you go down deeper than that, then we’re talking about the nerves and the discs.”
To help you get to the bottom of your pain, here are the reasons why you may get sore back muscles after sleeping, plus what to do to get a more comfortable snooze and alleviate back pain.
If your back pain is affecting you during and after sleep, talk to your doctor to correctly determine the cause, Dr. Drake says.