Back pain in the morning? DO NOT BUY THAT NEW BED just yet! Read on to find out what you can do.
Almost every day in clinic we hear of patients have spent £1000“s on a new mattress because they wake with back pain and stiffness which frequently seems worse in the morning.
While it may be an understandable leap of logic to assume that the thing you have slept on for 7 or 8 hours might be the cause of your pain, in our experience of working with many thousands of patients with back pain, the mattress is seldom the cause!
Back pain after sleeping? Save yourself thousands..
Many people suffer lower back pain in the morning, often accompanied by stiffness. This often eases after 20-30 minutes of weight bearing and moving around but sometimes it can fail to self-resolve and then the pain can stay with us and become more chronic in nature.
But why does back pain happen in the morning?
Before we get to the number one reason why people experience back pain in the morning, lets deal with the more serious causes of pain in the morning first.
There are a number of reasons why people can experience lower back pain in the first few minutes of the day.
i. Inflammatory conditions
Two examples include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
These kinds of conditions are rarer causes of pain first thing in the morning can be the cause for some people, but are not the most common. Some signs and symptoms can be found here
ii. Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome
One of the main aspects of Fibromyalgia is that it is either caused by or causes problems with sleep or is caused by a lack of quality sleep. People with Fibromyalgia frequently feel tired and do not find that sleep is restorative. In fact fatigue is often one of the hallmarks of Fibromyalgia as well as painful spots in muscles (known as Trigger Points) and pain sensitivity. Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition, not well understood by many and frequently misdiagnosed or over diagnosed. Pain is widespread and back pain is often a part of the pattern of pain caused by Fibromyalgia.
iii) Osteo-arthritis (OA)
People with 'Wear and Tear" (or more accurately described these days as "Tear, Flair and Repair"), will usually experience increased stiffness in the morning due to the "Gelling Phenomena" that occurs in osteoarthritic joints.
During "Gelling" which occurs during lack of use of a joint with OA the lubricating fluid (AKA "Synovial Fluid") within the joint thickens and makes movement initially more stiff and difficult.
Gelling is not specific to the morning and will occur at other points in the day whereby activity follows a period of lack of use, e.g. standing after sustained sitting.
This stiffness in the morning is typified by the way that it improves after around 10-20 minutes of moving around.
The number one cause of back pain in the morning?
In our experience the number one cause of back pain in the morning is THE NATURAL PHYSIOLOGY of your spine overlaid onto dysfunction or accumulated injury.
Your spinal discs fill with water an nutrients at night, so they swell.
If your spinal joints are not functioning well then your vertebrae cannot move apart easily, leading to disc stress as the discs pressurise and, if already damaged, cause pain. This pain is typically felt as stiffness and pain for the first 20-30 minutes of the day, easing as you weight bear once up and as the discs become pressured to reduce their fluid content and normalise again.
You are taller in the morning than in the evening. Don't believe us? It's true!
So the most common cause of morning back pain is rarely the bed and more often your spine!
This said, it is often still helpful to ensure that you have adequate support from your mattress. A poorly designed mattress or worn out one could make the stress to your back worse.
Our advice? See your chiropractor FIRST! It's cheaper than a new mattress and usually more effective too.
Call 02920 861800 to start improving your pain in the morning today.
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