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A Guide To Back Pain And Sleep

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Roughly 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can be a minor issue that flares up from time to time, or it can be a significant problem that infiltrates every aspect of your life. And few things are as affected by or affect back pain as much as sleep.

If you suffer from back pain, chances are you’re not getting the sleep you need. Trying to sleep with back pain can worsen the condition causing your pain, which ensures that you won’t get sleep in a vicious cycle. So, what can you do to break that cycle?

What Causes Back Pain?

According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the single largest cause of workplace disability, accounting for over 264 million lost days of work a year. In addition, the annual healthcare cost of back pain has skyrocketed to roughly $50 billion, making it one of the most expensive medical conditions commonly experienced by most of the world’s population.

The term “back pain” is broad enough to encompass a series of issues related to your spine, muscles, and nerves. It ranges from a dull ache that annoys you to a sharp pain that makes walking challenging.

The causes of back pain vary, but they include:

  • Stress or injury of the back muscles due to chronic overload caused by obesity, or acute overload caused by heavy lifting or pregnancy
  • Degenerative arthritis caused by aging and genetic predisposition 
  • Physical injury to the vertebrae from harsh impacts (falls, car accidents, sports injuries, etc.)
  • Diseases that cause wearing away of the bone, such as osteoporosis
  • Injury or disease involving the spinal nerves, such as a protruding disk or spinal stenosis
  • Kidney stones or a kidney infection
  • Inflammatory arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis and related conditions
  • A spinal tumor or cancer that has spread to the spine from elsewhere in the body

In addition, there are three types of back pain. Acute back pain occurs suddenly and can last for a few days to a few weeks. Subacute back pain can occur suddenly or develop over time, lasting about 4 to 12 weeks. And chronic back pain can also happen suddenly or develop over time, but it lasts consistently for longer than 12 weeks after an initial injury or underlying cause has been treated.

The symptoms of back pain are entirely dependent on the cause of the back pain. Often, pain is accompanied by other issues that point to its cause. For example, if the back pain radiates down your legs or arms, it could be a sign of nerve damage. Or stiffness and difficulty bending can be an indicator of degenerative arthritis.

It’s important to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider if they last for longer than 12 weeks and don’t respond to any initial treatment.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Back Pain?

While awake, you can control how your body moves to avoid jarring your spine or back muscles. However, you move around in your sleep, even if it’s only tiny movements at a time. And these movements aren’t made with any regard to the position of your back. So, if you’ve got injured muscles, a herniated disk, or any other physical ailment, you will end up exacerbating it if you manage to get any sleep at all.

In addition, if you sleep on your side, there’s a chance that you’ll worsen your back pain. Without the proper support for your head, your neck will list to one side. This misalignment will easily affect the rest of your spine down to your lower back. However, you should note that sleeping on your side is a good option when dealing with back pain if you have the proper precautions and support.

Even if you don’t suffer from back pain, you should be wary of how you sleep, particularly if you wake up feeling stiff or sore in the morning. Those feelings are an indication that your body is not in a comfortable position when you sleep, and they can lead to back pain if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that you don’t develop back pain if you’re not a fan of sleeping on your side.

If you sleep on your back

It would help if you placed a firm pillow under your knees or lower back to help support the natural curve of your spine. This practice is essential if you’re sleeping on an innerspring mattress or a mattress that is firmer than what your body needs. Also, be sure to use a thinner pillow to maintain the natural curve of your cervical spine in your neck, which can help reduce or prevent chronic neck pain.

If you sleep on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can exacerbate neck pain by putting extra stress on your vertebrae. Therefore, it’s best to avoid this position if you can help it. However, if you find that stomach sleeping is the only way to be comfortable in bed, you can place a thin pillow under your head while keeping a firmer pillow under your abdomen and hips. Doing so will keep your lower back from sinking and pulling your spine out of alignment, which can put pressure on both your lower back and your neck.

Selecting The Right Mattress Makes All The Difference

When it comes to preventing back pain from interfering with your sleep or vice-versa, your mattress makes a huge difference. Proper spinal alignment depends on a firm mattress to support you. Though research indicates that a medium-firm mattress is ideal for supporting your lower back, the appropriate firmness can vary due to your body weight, age, body type, sleeping position, and personal preference.

Choosing the best mattress for your needs will guarantee that you will have a solid night of sleep. Here are 8 questions you should think about for mattresses. Getting the right amount of sleep can prevent several problems that can not only exacerbate your back pain but can introduce several new issues. So, we carry a wide selection of mattresses with a five-year 100% cash-back guarantee. If you can find a comparable mattress for a better price anywhere else, we will not only honor that price, but we will pay you back the difference in cash.

So, get in touch with us to find your perfect mattress.

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