Why is Back Pain Worse in the Morning?

Even if you’re an early bird, getting out of bed when you suffer from back pain can be daunting. As many patients know, a sunrise can leave them stiff, sore and wondering why they have morning back pain.

For many patients, morning back pain isn’t a symptom of a larger spinal issue, but a manifestation of other bad habits. Before seeking professional help consider common environmental causes of back pain:

  • Bad Mattress: Firm bedding supports your spine better through the night, and well-worn, cratered mattresses may aggravate your back while you sleep.
  • Poor Sleep Position: Sleeping on your stomach causes your lower back to extend, placing it under pressure. Side sleepers who don’t bend their knees (or sometimes even prop a pillow between their knees) may also be irritating their backs as they sleep.
  • Poor Ergonomics: Bad posture? Work in a bad environment? Your ergonomics may take a toll on your back that worsens at night when you’re still.

If you’ve sorted out the environmental factors that contributes to morning back pain, it might be a medical condition that causes those achy mornings. You’ll need to seek a professional diagnosis for treatment options, but you may suffer from:

  • Herniated Disc: The tissue that sits between and cushions vertebrae may break down and inflame surrounding tissue, a condition known as a herniated disc. Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc’s pain is worse in the morning due to long stretches of inactivity when sleeping.
  • Inflammatory Back Pain: Inflammation caused by an autoimmune disorder may cause spinal tissue to swell and inflame. You’ll likely need treatment outside of orthopedic care to address this issue.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: Swelling of the joints in the spine can cause pain and stiffness that often decreases throughout the day.
  • Spinal Stenosis: The narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on nerves, and is often irritated when you sleep. While it’s more common in older adults, it can affect younger patients, particularly those who suffered a spinal injury.

Morning back pain can have many contributing factors, so consulting with experts at Front Range Orthopedics & Spine in our three locations – Longmont, Lafayette and Frederick – can help you locate the root of your pain and treat it.

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