Back pain can be an extremely frustrating condition to deal with, especially when it rears its ugly head at the end of the day when all you want to do kick back and relax. Throbbing back pain is unfortunately quite common at nighttime because your body is now feeling the effects of another day of movement and activity. You’re not going to sit around all day just so that your back isn’t in pain when it’s time to lay down at night, so what can you do to help treat nighttime back pain? We share some tips in today’s blog.
Treating Nighttime Back Pain
Treating back pain at night revolves around two larger goals, which are preventing pain from developing in the first place and effectively treating discomfort that arises at the end of the day. We’ll look at each of those goals below:
Prevention – As with all health conditions, prevention is preferred to treatment. If you’re dealing with recurrent back pain at night, arguably the worst thing you can do is to continue doing the same things each day and hoping the condition will go away on its own. The condition likely developed because of your daily habits and lifestyle choices, so if you continue down the same path, it’s more likely to get worse than to get better.
Now, that’s not to say that nighttime back pain is always caused by things like overstress, posture problems or poor shoe choices. Nighttime back pain could also be a sign of a larger problem like spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease. Regardless of the underlying cause, your best bet is to set up an appointment with a spine specialist list Dr. Chang. They’ll be able to conduct a physical exam and use imaging tests to determine exactly what’s causing your pain. Then, they can implement individualized treatment recommendations based on your specific needs. Oftentimes those preventative techniques include:
- Posture improvements.
- Switching to a more supportive and comfortable shoe.
- Ergonomic improvements at the home or office.
- Controlled exercise to help better prepare the spine for stress.
- Dietary improvements to lose weight and take stress off the spine.
- Giving your body plenty of rest between strenuous and repetitive activity.
Treatment – A number of the above techniques could also be classified as treatments, but in this section we’re going to focus on things you can do to attempt to alleviate a nighttime flareup when it’s happening. The above are more long-term fixes, while these treatment options are more aimed at short-term relief so that you can continue pursuing long-term preventative options.
If you’re in the midst of a flareup at night, you’ll want to avoid keeping your spine in one position for an extended time, unless of course you’re trying to sleep. Keeping your spine in one position will put extended stress on certain areas, so it’s best to vary your body positioning and help spread out gravity’s effects on different muscle groups. Vary between standing, sitting, moving and lying down if you feel a flare up coming on.
You can also work to reduce the effects of nighttime back pain by taking anti-inflammatory or over-the-counter pain medications. These are most effective when you’re sufficiently hydrated, so drink plenty of water to help improve blood flow throughout your body. You’ll also want to get a restful night’s sleep to give your body plenty of time to recover from the physical stress of the day, but that’s easier said than done when you back is ailing. You can learn more about how sleep deprivation can make back pain worse on this blog, but suffice it to say you’ll want to do what you can to provide your spine with a healthy sleep environment. This often includes a combination of:
- Investing in a supportive mattress or replacing an old and ineffective model.
- Going to bed around the same time each night.
- Limiting caffeine and food intake within an hour of going to bed.
- Creating an ideal sleep environment (no television, phones, books, lights, etc.).
- Keeping the room a cool and relaxing temperature.
If you can do all of these things and you work hard to prevent nighttime back pain and to treat it when it develops, we’re confident you’ll be able to get your discomfort under control. For more tips, or for help with your back pain issue, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.