Why does my back hurt in the morning?
This question is quite a common occurrence in our patients, and you might be surprised that it’s often nothing to do with your bed or mattress. So hold off going out and buying that new one! There are a number of reasons that this can occur and I will run through the most common below.
- Post exercise soreness or delayed onset muscular soreness (DOMS)
When we exert ourselves either through planned exercise or through general activities using out joints and muscles and cause a level of damage. This is actually a positive, particularly if you’re exercising as slightly damaging muscle and then the muscle healing is how we improve strength and performance. Of ten after resting overnight the inflammatory process of breaking down and healing is still occurring and because you haven’t moved the inflammatory response almost ‘pools’ around muscle and joints. Once you start moving again the natural movement of the muscle and joint squeezes and moved that pooled inflammation around and disperses.
- Osteoarthritis (wear and tear)
Our bodies all naturally age and like anything they can show signs of wear and tear. This isn’t something to generally worry about. However when wear and tear becomes more advanced it can cause stiffness and soreness in the morning. Quite similar to the process after exercise with inflammation but this is caused due to inflammation of the joints and discs rather than more transient exercise.
- Lumbar disc protrusion or tear
When we lie down at night we take our bodyweight off our spine, in particular the spongy discs that sit between our vertebra bones. The disc acts almost like a sponge soaking up fluid when its not compressed then when we stand up in the morning because it has asorbed the most amount of fluid it is at its most enlarged. Standing up then puts your body weight on the disc, if the disc has a tear or protrusion near a nerve the extra plump disc protrudes more and can aggravate symptoms causing pain in the mornings that don’t usually last for more than an hour.
What can I do to ease my morning back pain?
The most crucial part of solving back pain in the morning is to solve the underlying back issue. Once the cause has been identified then treatment to correct this will usually resolve morning aches and pain. This is through a thorough examination and treatment plan developed for each individual patient.
Other simple steps that can give relief:
To help improve mobility in the mornings you can do a few gentle mobility exercises before getting out of bed like knee to chest and knee roll exercises.
Changing sleep positions can also help, it’s worth trying:
- a pillow underneath your knees if you sleep on your back can align the spine better and reduce lower back pain
- a pillow between the legs of a side sleeper better aligns the hips and spine
- a pillow underneath the lower abdomen of a stomach sleeper can reduce the curvature in the lower back
A new mattress. I would advise patients to avoid rushing out to purchase a brand-new mattress to solve their morning pain. Often pain is a back issue and not a mattress issue. However, in certain cases despite treatment helping improve back pain it can remain. This is usually a good point to potentially change the mattress particularly if you have an old or unsupportive one.
It can often be confusing and difficult for patients to identify why their back is so sore in the morning. It is very important to put all the potential factors together to reach the correct diagnosis. That’s where Chiropractors can help! If you are struggling with soreness in the mornings then don’t suffer in silence, give us a call or book online and we can get to the cause of the issues and develop a plan to solve that morning pain.
Alex @ The Guildford Spine Centre