What Causes Nighttime Back Pain?

Nearly 80% of people with back pain suffer from insomnia, and 64% of those people attribute their sleep problems to back pain, according to research from Rheumatology International. Not getting enough sleep can wreck havoc on your health and quality of life. For most patients, nighttime back pain is simply an extension of the pain they experience all day, but for others, the pain worsens or starts when they lie down.

Like any other type of back pain, the causes of nocturnal back pain aren't always clear. Here are some of the more common causes of nighttime back pain we see in our Beaverton & Aloha clinic:

  • Disc degeneration: As the body ages, the spinal discs begin to dry out and collapse, diminishing their ability to absorb shock and cushion the vertebrae. Lumbar disc herniation causes sciatica, lower back pain, and sometimes symptoms like pins and needles sensations.
  • Certain conditions such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine) or scoliosis can irritate the spinal nerves, causing pain.
  • Arthritis can make you more susceptible to disc degeneration and bony overgrowths that pinch or irritate the spinal nerves. Patients with arthritis may also experience more stiffness in the morning.

References

Bahoug H, et al. Prevalence and severity of insomnia in chronic low back pain patients. Rheumatology International. 2013 May;33(5):1277-81. doi: 10.1007/s00296-012-2550-x. 

Night Back Pain: Causes and Treatment. Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/nightime-back-pain.

November 18, 2013
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Sunita Bhasin