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You do not have to pay to continue reading. The suggested price really is just a suggestion. I refuse to clutter my pages with typical internet advertising so instead you get a strongly worded suggestion to support my work. But only in a few of the most substantive and popular articles.
And why six bucks? I would rather suggest $3 for this, honestly, but my hands are tied. Its weird, but $5 online purchases are rejected by credit card companies at an extraordinary rate, because that price point is strongly associated with fraud . And under $5, the fees start to defeat the purpose of the donation. So $6 is the minimum viable price point for a micro-transaction.
But, if youve come this far with me, you can see that this is a super deep dive into the topic of morning back pain, like a small ebook that I could easily be selling to Kindle users . Certainly its more than a mere article: its an actively maintained resource, heavily referenced, and ad-free for millions of readers over the years. Please help it exist.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
How Is Lumbar Strain Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnosing low back pain may include the following. However, specialized tests aren’t often required.
- X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- CT scan. This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. It shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- MRI. This test uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures in the body.
- Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into your blood to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity in the bone.
- Electromyogram . A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
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Spine Problems That Cause Back Stiffness
Up until here weve discussed some basic stretches and postural changes you can make to help relieve and prevent back stiffness. But what if the condition is deeper than muscular? Below is a list of some other common causes of tightness in your lower back.
- Herniated or ruptured discs: This is a flattening and bulging out or rupturing of the discs that sit between the vertebrae.
- Sciatica: This is a form of radiculopathy that involves compression of the sciatic nerve running down the back.
- Spinal stenosis: This is narrowing of the spinal column, which puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
- Spondylolisthesis: This occurs when the vertebrae of the lower back come out of place and pinch nearby nerves.
- Arthritis: This is an inflammatory condition that affects joints throughout the body, including the back.
If the pain and stiffness lasts more than 3 to 4 week it may be from these conditions. Its best to discuss long-term or debilitating pain with a doctor who may recommend physical therapy, pain management therapies, or minimally-invasive treatments. Your doctor will guide you through the diagnosis, imaging, and treatment of these conditions based on the root cause of your back stiffness.
Unexplained Acute Low Back Pain
Unexplained low back pain means chronic pain that comes on gradually, over time, with no specific injury, event, or illness causing it.
- Prolonged sitting and lack of fitness can weaken back muscles and cause pain from lack of support.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord.
- Certain types of cancer, in rare cases.
Those most susceptible are over 30, overweight and/or pregnant, and not physically fit. Smoking interferes with healing after any sort of stress to the back.
If there are additional symptoms, medical care should be sought: fever, unexplained weight loss, leg weakness or numbness, or trouble urinating.
An exact diagnosis is made through blood tests and through imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.
Once more serious causes are ruled out, treatment may include medications to ease pain, swelling, and inflammation. Steroid injections are useful in some cases.
Overall, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can be very helpful with easing chronic low back pain.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, back pain
Symptoms that always occur with unexplained acute low back pain:lower back pain
Symptoms that never occur with unexplained acute low back pain:buttocks numbness, thigh numbness, involuntary defecation, fever
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When Should I See A Doctor If I Have Lower Back Pain
In many cases lower back pain stops on its own. But if it doesnt, here are some guidelines on when you may want to start seeking professional help:
- If the pain lasts four weeks or longer
- If the pain keeps getting worse as time goes by
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.
Inflammation Sleep Stress And Pain
The link between sleep and pain is based on some superficially simple inflammatory biology: bad sleep is inflammatory and inflammation makes it harder to sleep, which is not widely appreciated. That means that sleeping badly can actually make it harder to sleep well!17 This is a vicious cycle every extremely frustrated insomniac is familiar with: being exhausted from a sleepless is not a guarantee that you will sleep well the next night.
And that vicious cycle is relevant to night and morning pain, which is known to be significantly mediated by the immune system signalling molecule interleukin-6. IL-6 and inflammation are almost synonymous more of one means more of the other. Everyone knows that stress makes it harder to sleep, but how? Its not just because your mind is racing its because stress makes us produce IL-6, which is inflammatory, and inflammation in turn makes it harder to sleep! And then the bad sleep also makes us pump more IL-6
And thats why its important to get your sleep!
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Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
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.3 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.4 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:5
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Herniated Disk In The Lower Back
The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, moderate back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that gets worse when sitting, leg weakness
Urgency: Primary care doctor
When To See A Specialist For Lower Back Pain
If you’re experiencing lower back pain that’s not responding to rest and self-care, it’s time to consider seeing a spine specialist.
“A spine specialist will likely perform a physical exam as well as one or more imaging scans to diagnose the root cause of your lower back pain. Depending on your diagnosis, he or she will then design a treatment plan aimed at alleviating your pain and preventing it from disrupting the everyday activities you enjoy,” says Dr. Palmer.
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What Can You Do About Tight Hips
Stretching regularly helps your hip flexors stay loose. That can lower your odds of having hip and back pain and help you avoid injuries.
Do the following 4 easy stretches daily. You can do them before you exercise as part of your warm-up routine, after long periods of sitting, or whenever your hips feel tight.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Your back should be straight.
- Slowly let your knees fall open. Then pull the soles of your feet together.
- Keeping your hands on your feet or ankles, relax your knees and let them get closer to the floor.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure you continue to breathe as you stretch.
Main Causes Of Morning Back Pain
Why is back pain worst first thing in the morning, and what can you do about it?
I woke up with it is an amazingly common description of how low back pain started.
Why? Is sleeping dangerous? Probably not: waking up with back pain rarely indicates a serious problem. But both mornings and backs are unusually vulnerable to some common minor sources of pain.
This is mostly about chronic back pain thats at its worst in the morning, a common symptom pattern. People who are more or less pain-free during the day may still suffer for a while every day after waking up. But attacks of acute back pain are also much more common in the first few hours of the day see Steffens et al.2 and that phenomenon may be related to why chronic back pain tends to be bad in the morning.
Morning back pain is a tough problem to treat because most of it probably has several subtle chronic causes, but there may be some opportunities for treatment.
Is pain & stiffness your alarm clock? Do you bail out of bed early every morning with low back pain, neck pain & more?
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Do You Have Lower Back Pain In The Morning
Some people find that their back pain is worse in the morning, while others have more pain at the end of a long workday. Its important to pay attention to the times when your pain spikes because it could be an indication of the cause of your pain.
Its estimated that about 65 million people in the United States have experienced recent back pain, with about 16 million people having chronic back pain problems. When this pain persists, it can disrupt all aspects of daily living, making it hard to keep up with your responsibilities at home and work.
Not only does back pain make it difficult to get through the day, but this health concern can also be expensive. Direct costs include doctors visits, therapy appointments, pain medication, massage, and other services to reduce or eliminate the pain. Indirect costs of chronic back pain include missed work or lost opportunities because you arent feeling up to the job.
Even though back pain is a common complaint, you dont have to suffer from this discomfort indefinitely. Modern medical treatments might be used to help you manage the pain, so you can return to a normal, healthy lifestyle once again.
Every situation is unique, so the treatment outcomes vary. The most important step is to identify the root cause of your back pain. Then, a customized treatment plan can be designed to alleviate your discomfort.
Poor Quality Sleep And Insomnia Are Probably Major Causes Of Morning Back Pain
Dont get me wrong: some people sleep just fine and still have morning back pain. But poor quality sleep and pain tend definitely to go together,15 and mornings can be the roughest part of that link.
The more interesting question is the chicken/egg thing: which comes first? Pain or sleeplessness? Once you have both insomnia and pain, they surely cause each other, but one side of that equation is probably more important than the other, like a cyclist pushing much harder on one pedal than the other.
In 2017, Gerhart et al studied the which-came-first question of pain and insomnia in 105 chronic low back pain patients.16 Their subjects bravely filled out five detailed questionnaires per day for two weeks thats quite a lot of paperwork tracking and rating many aspects of their pain and sleep quality. The goal was to study lagged temporal associations: what tends to happen after what? Are bad sleeps often followed by bad days with back pain? Are rough days with back pain followed by lousy sleeps?
Yes and no to those two questions.
Poorer sleep was strongly linked to everything being worse which is about as surprising as a dog barking at a squirrel. Its the timing of that relationship that this study zoomed in on, and not only did a bad night clearly herald trouble across the board the next day more pain, more disability, more doom and gloom but especially during the early part of the day.
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Is There Such A Thing As Poor Posture When Sleeping
Yes, but I believe its rare for it to be bad enough to matter much. As discussed already, most awkward postures during sleep involve relatively minor postural stresses being a little twisted this-a-way or that-a-way that we tolerate for too long because were unconscious. Such postural stresses arent a bad habit in any meaningful sense. But it is also possible to be so habitually careless with sleeping position that it does constitute poor posture. If you know that a particular sleeping position is uncomfortable for you, but you keep sleeping like that, thats a poor sleeping posture.
Or is it a bad habit if you cant stop it? If its something you do habitually but unconsciously? This is a philosophical puzzle for the reader to work out.
Habitual sleeping position is clearly a factor in some back pain. Just about the only study ever done on this topic showed a small improvement in a few back pain patients who were instructed regarding the recommended way to sleep which basically meant a more neutral position.24 The benefit was real but small. I think conscious sleep positioning is only a minor factor in low back pain, and tough to fix. Usually we dont even suspect a problem with our sleep posture until its too late! For most people, trying to work on sleeping position probably does not offer particularly good bang for buck.
How To Get Rid Of Muscle Tightness In Lower Back
The goal is to reduce tightening and increase the range of motion in lower back. At the same time, patient also craves for quick relief from pain.
- Giving rest to the back muscle is immediate step to reduce the spasms. Person should stop all activities and lie down in bed. He should sleep in such position that helps to give quick pain relief and relax the spastic muscles.
- Patient should lie on the bed with a thin pillow under the head. His lower leg should be slightly elevated by keeping two pillows. The mattress should be firm. It will prevent the body to sag. Person can also choose a position by lying on the side.
- Massage is beneficial as it relaxes the stressed muscles of lower back and alleviates tightening. However, it should be a gentle massage rather than performing it vigorously.
- Hot fomentation is valuable as it increases the circulation which helps to relieve spasm.
- Acupressure is another alternative remedy to relieve pain and stiffness in the back.
- Health professionals usually prescribe muscle relaxants and painkillers to hasten the recovery.
- Person should quit smoking as smoking often lowers the oxygenation in the muscles and tissues.
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