You go to sleep exhausted with the hope that by morning you’ll feel a little better and, most importantly, well-rested. Then the alarm goes off, you try to get up, and you feel it – the dreaded back pain. Waking up with back pain is something no one dreams about. But what causes it?
Although it’s a fairly common problem, some people experience it more than others. It could be a medical condition that requires a visit to the doctor, or it can be due to environmental factors such as sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress or in an awkward position. Let’s look at five of the most common causes of morning back pain.
You Need New Pillows
Let’s talk about your pillows. Do you wake up regularly with aches and pains, especially in your shoulders and neck? Are your pillows lumpy and you have to bend them in half to get some decent support? Do they have permanent and noticeable stains from sweat? Maybe it’s time to change your pillows. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you change them every one or two years.
Pillows play an important role in keeping your body in alignment during sleep. For example, if you like to sleep on your side like most people, you can place a firm pillow between your knees. This will support your upper leg and prevent additional stress on your hips and lower back.
The perfect pillow should fit your individual shape and sleeping position to relieve pressure on the intricate structures of your spine. Memory foam pillows like best bamboo pillow can adapt to your shape, and they’re also more durable.
You Need a New Mattress
If your mattress is saggy or lumpy, we may have identified the cause of your morning back pain. Try to remember the last time you changed your mattress. Has it more than ten years? Then you need to go shopping. The level of support and comfort a mattress provides depends on the materials used to manufacture it, thickness, and firmness. In turn, the firmness will depend on your weight and personal preference.
You don’t want a mattress that will sink under your weight, but you also don’t want one that feels like you’re sleeping on the floor. If your mattress does not offer the appropriate support, you will not only wake up with back pain, but you’ll be moving in your sleep a lot because you’re trying to find a comfortable position. That’s the perfect recipe for waking up grumpy.
One of the reasons why most people sleep on their side is because it’s the most comfortable position. If you often wake up with aches and pains, the cause might be your sleeping posture. If you sleep flat on your back, it not only makes snoring worse, but it can result in lower back pain. Sleeping on your stomach isn’t great either because it flattens the natural curvature of your spine.
Doctors usually recommend that you sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees, as mentioned earlier. Of course, if that makes it harder to fall asleep, you can always relieve the pressure with pillows. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees to reduce lower back pain, and if you sleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis.
Back pain is very common during pregnancy, and some women start to experience it even after only eight weeks. However, it’s most likely to become an issue between months five and seven. This is due to several reasons:
- Weight gain – The average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, and her spine has to support that extra weight, which can lead to pain in the lower back. Moreover, the growing baby and uterus put pressure on the nerves of the pelvis.
- Posture changes – Since pregnancy shifts your center of gravity, you will adjust your posture, and the way you walk even without realizing it. This can also result in strain and back pain.
- Ligaments – The ligaments in your body will become softer and stretch to make giving birth easier. However, this can cause back pain because it places more stress on the joints of your pelvis and lower back.
After sleeping for a long time in the same position, lower back pain can worsen in the morning. This is why women use maternity pillows. Much like we talked about how to use regular pillows to maintain the body’s natural alignment, maternity pillows are designed to support the changing contours of a pregnant woman’s body and make it easier for her to sleep in a comfortable position.
Degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis can occur without a triggering event. As we age, the natural wear and tear of the discs between the vertebrae in the spinal cord can narrow the lumbar spinal canal. In some cases, there are no symptoms of discomfort for several years, but since it compresses the spinal nerves, it will start to affect mobility most frequently in the lower back.
Since the pressure inside the disc is higher in the morning, it can lead to pain that ranges from moderate to intense. Other common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
- Weakness in the muscles of the legs
- A sensation of tingling or numbness in the legs and arms
- Pain can worsen when bending, lifting, or sitting for prolonged periods, but it improves when changes positions or walking.
If you’ve experienced the symptoms mentioned above, you should make an appointment with your doctor. After taking your medical history and conducting a physical exam to assess your reflexes, range of motion, curvature, and alignment of your spine and see which motions cause pain or discomfort, they will most likely order imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to get a better look at your spinal discs and see if there’s any bone or nerve damage.
Treatment usually involves taking pain medications such as OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers or steroid injections. Steroid injections contain strong medications to relieve pain, and the effects can last from six weeks to six months. They’re usually administered in the epidural area, a fluid-filled space around the spinal cord.
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