Upper Back Pain After Sleeping and How to Fix It

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Sleep is one aspect of life where back pain can significantly affect a patient's quality of life. It can be challenging to unwind and find comfort at night when you're in pain. Often, this results in a lack of overall sleep and poor quality rest, which can actually further aggravate this condition. Although morning pain on the upper back is a difficult condition to manage since it likely involves a number of subtle chronic causes, there may be some options for treatment.

So how can you cope with upper back pain that occurs after sleeping? Most of the time, upper back pain will go away on its own in 1 to 2 weeks without the need for any kind of treatment. Whenever severe upper back pain continues to plague you despite self-care techniques, it's time to consider additional immediate pain relief. You should get medical assistance from a pain specialist if your pain is intense, appears suddenly, and progressively becomes worse. 

How to Deal With Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

As sleep is an essential part of life, we spend about a third of our time resting every day. Sleep should be an opportunity to relax painlessly and prepare for the next day. Sadly, for some people, sleeping can be a painful experience that can result in muscle strain, nerve compression, and muscle spasm. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options to help you manage and avoid chronic neck pain and back pain.

It's crucial to wait until the cause of the severe pain is identified before making a major decision or undergoing invasive medical procedures. They might not only be ineffective, but they might even make the pain worse. Your best course of action may be to work with your doctor to reduce the flare-ups and make the pain manageable using nonsurgical treatments if the cause of the pain is unknown or cannot be cured.

1) Exercise

A patient experiencing spinal misalignment, shoulder blade tension, rotator cuff injuries, muscle spasm, or any similar conditions needs to perform daily exercises. There are numerous simple, low-impact workouts that are beneficial for numerous different conditions. You can relieve upper back and neck pain after sleeping by engaging in activities like brisk walking, swimming, and yoga. But note that patients suffering from muscle overuse must be cautious with such exercises.

Walking plays an important role in your health, and you should aim to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. If you want to keep your back strong, you should move and do activities that get you off your feet. Additionally, muscles and joints can be made more flexible through exercise. Proper exercise releases feel-good hormones like endorphins, the natural painkiller produced by the brain.

2) Over-The-Counter Medication

pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are used to treat inflammation. These are painkillers that also lessen inflammation, which may be making you feel uncomfortable. If you are unable to take NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be a good alternative for treating occasional upper back pain.

Additionally, capsaicin-containing painkillers are well known for effectively alleviating nighttime back pain brought on by osteoarthritis, degenerative disc degeneration, and rotator cuff tendinitis. Menthol-containing creams can help momentarily relieve the pain and stiffness brought on by poor sleeping positions. But note that excessive usage of menthol cream may also make you more sensitive to discomfort at night, so it's best to use it in moderation.

3) Medical Intervention

The objectives of treatment for back pain are to alleviate your symptoms and restore your ability to move comfortably and freely. The type of treatment you need depends on where your pain is and what caused it. When it comes to acute pain that is sharp and sudden or chronic pain that lasts more than 6 months after an injury or illness, a pain specialist will recommend any one of many different medical interventions available to help relieve the nighttime back pain.

Physical Therapy

Before pursuing alternative, more aggressive treatments, such as back surgery, patients with the majority of upper back pain are frequently recommended for 4 weeks of physical therapy as an initial conservative treatment option. Physical therapy seeks to improve function, lessen acute pain and muscle tension, and teach patients how to maintain their bodies to avoid future back issues.

Treatment for chronic back pain begins with exercise. Under the supervision of your doctor and a spine physical therapist, it's one of the initial treatments you should try. But not everyone responds well to the same set of exercises, particularly patients suffering from muscle overuse. 

Your unique symptoms and condition must be taken into consideration when developing the routines. The success of the treatment also heavily depends on keeping up the fitness regimen at home. The following activities may be part of physical therapy for chronic back pain:

  • Core strengthening
  • Practicing better posture
  • Examining of the pain threshold
  • Exercises for flexibility and stretching
  • Aerobic exercises

Cortisone Injections

The goal of pain injections, a variety of interventional pain management treatment, is to provide patients with chronic pain with immediate pain relief and to enhance their quality of life. When a spinal nerve, facet joint, or vertebral disc is injured or damaged, joint, neck, or back pain may develop in the affected areas. A pain specialist administers pain injections to treat those conditions, particularly inflammatory back pain.

There are numerous different types of pain injections that offer pain treatment, but some of the most popular ones are facet joint and epidural steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections are used to alleviate back, arm, leg, neck, and other pains brought on by inflamed spinal cord nerves. Instead of being given orally or through the veins, the corticosteroid injection is injected directly to the center of pain.

Corticosteroids are also used in facet joint injections, often referred to as medial branch blocks, to lessen inflammatory back pain and tense neck muscles. Facet injections are given directly into the particular facet joint that’s hurting rather than the epidural area. Degenerative conditions benefit most from this treatment.

Implanted Nerve Stimulators

Patients who suffer chronic pain associated with conditions in their peripheral nervous system may benefit from peripheral nerve stimulation. Placing the peripheral nerve stimulator close to the peripheral nerve origin requires surgery. The electrode then sends quick electrical impulses to the brain, which reduces the shooting pain to a slight tingling.

But note that you must first try out a temporary electrode before getting a permanent implant in your body. The temporary electrode is swapped out with a permanent one close to the nerve site if you notice pain reduction throughout the trial period. Typically, it takes several years before the internal battery-powered peripheral nerve stimulation device implanted beneath the skin needs to be replaced.

This treatment has a high percentage of success, and the majority of patients report both rapid and long-lasting pain alleviation. The pulse generator can be easily changed or uninstalled in the unlikely event that it malfunctions. The entire process is only regarded as minimally invasive because the implant is only detected just beneath the skin.

Spine Surgery

If non-surgical options have failed and your pain is unbearable and chronic, back surgery may be taken into consideration. Most often, back surgery more effectively resolves related pain or numbness that travels down one or both arms or legs.

Consider seeking a second opinion from a certified spine specialist before you consent to back surgery. Different spinal surgeons may have different perspectives on when to operate, what kind of surgery to conduct, and whether surgery is even necessary for different conditions of the spine. A team of medical experts may be needed to diagnose and treat a complex condition like leg and back pain.

What Causes Morning Back Pain?

Correct and wrong positions in sleeping infographic.

Although upper back pain in the mornings can occur from time to time, some people get it more frequently than others. Numerous factors, such as stress, poor posture, or underlying medical disorders, might contribute to this chronic pain.

1) Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position might be to blame if you wake up with back pain every morning. Your spinal cord may experience pressure from improper sleeping positions, flattening its natural curve. Additionally, this may strain your back and put uncomfortable pressure on your joints. Back pain could be more frequent if you usually sleep on your stomach.

For improved sleep and spine health, think about switching up your sleeping position. Doctors advise placing a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side or back. Put a pillow beneath your pelvis or lower belly for support if lying on your stomach is the only position that seems comfortable to you. This sleep position allows you to relieve some of the strain on your back.

2) Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects the musculoskeletal system and causes widespread pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia is known to amplify pain by altering how your brain interprets pain signals. Musculoskeletal pain can affect everyone, although women are more likely than men to experience it.

The following are additional signs and symptoms of this condition:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory issues
  • Mood swings
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Tension headaches
  • Depression
  • Erratic sleep
  • Anxiety

Although there is no known treatment for this musculoskeletal pain condition, there are a number of painkillers that can help with sleep issues and other uncomfortable symptoms. Additionally, your doctor may recommend therapy or counseling in order to assist you in living a better life and learning coping mechanisms for your condition.

3) Herniated Disc

Another probable reason for intense pain is a herniated disc. Herniated discs develop when microscopic fragments of the rubber-like cushions between your vertebrae break through, putting strain on the spine. Although the discomfort typically begins in the lower back, it can also progress into upper back and middle back pain.

Additionally, you can experience numbness and weakness in your legs, hips, and arms. Herniated discs and pinched nerves can cause excruciating pain that is typically difficult for sufferers to manage. In this circumstance, it is advised to consult with a pain specialist to help manage symptoms.

4) Pregnancy

The most common symptom of pregnancy is back pain. Even though some pregnant women feel this discomfort as early as week 8, it usually becomes bothersome about 5 to 7 months after conception. Lower and upper back muscles may get strained during pregnancy. This pain and discomfort, which can result in persisting stiffness and muscular tightness after a night of heavy sleep, may be worse in the morning.

5) Physical Injury

Accidents that inflict sudden trauma to the back muscles of a patient can result in compression fractures and severe back pain. The different events that result in this range from falling to incorrectly lifting heavy items. The symptoms of injury may manifest almost immediately following the incident or may take years to develop.

The injury may not always be visible. After sleeping, it could manifest as soreness in the upper back. Getting a diagnosis or treating the injury on time may prevent long-term complications. In these situations, getting the advice of a healthcare practitioner is essential. Additionally, you may request your provider to recommend a physical therapy clinic or center.

6) Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain typically results from an injury or excessive usage of the knees, spine, or hips. After sleeping, upper back and neck pain might result from severe pain that has spread throughout the body. It can be difficult to manage the painful soft tissue. Doctors are still trying to figure out why myofascial back and neck pain keeps coming back. 

Existing chronic pain may be treated with physical therapy, a memory foam mattress, and an adjustable bed frame. Additionally, make sure your pillows are comfortable. You can achieve the restorative sleep required for pain management by sleeping on a mattress made of memory foam, latex, foam, pocket coils, or a hybrid of these materials, which can cushion sensitive areas.

Tips for Preventing Sleep-Related Back Pain

Back pain can make it difficult to function throughout the day and even more difficult to have a restful night's sleep. Finding a cozy spot to fall asleep might be challenging. Additionally, you might experience pain even when getting in and out of bed.

But getting enough sleep is crucial for your health and has a significant role in your general wellbeing. In fact, research has revealed that getting insufficient sleep may actually increase your pain threshold. Sleeping isn't always easy when you're suffering from back pain. Here are some recommendations to ease your discomfort while getting some rest.

1) Maintain a Neutral Spine for the Best Sleeping Position

A healthy spine is largely dependent on good posture, which goes beyond simply sitting or standing straight. Your neck and back are significantly impacted by your sleep posture. While some positions make you feel more awake in the morning, others can make you feel painful, stiff, and unpleasant.

Consider neutral positions when trying to determine which sleeping posture is best for your neck and back. The least amount of strain is placed on your back and neck when you are in a neutral, or straight, position of your spine. This position minimizes pressure points and ensures optimal alignment of your internal organs by equally distributing weight throughout the largest surface of your body. 

Being on your stomach makes for the worst sleeping position. This awkward sleep position can often lead to a stiff neck, muscle tension, and chest pain. Additionally, sleep with a durable innerspring or foam mattress, or, for more support, put a foam mattress topper on top of your innerspring mattress. To maintain neutral spine alignment, you can also adjust your sleeping position or use pillows.

2) Buy a Good Mattress

You might be sleeping on the unsuitable mattress if you're experiencing back pain when you wake up. But back pain is rarely brought on by your bed. In any circumstance, a comfortable mattress might assist in reducing the symptoms of back pain. Your spine will be more aligned if you have a suitable mattress that meets your preferences. 

In an ideal sleeping position, the spine can be aligned properly, which will relieve aches and pain. Finding the best mattress that doesn't strain on painful areas, specifically the shoulders and sacrum, is crucial for those who experience chronic back pain. The best mattress is usually soft enough to feel comfortable while still being hard enough to prevent your shoulders from sinking. An ideal mattress firmness level is between 5 to 7.

3) Support Your Body With the Right Pillows

Regardless of your preferred sleeping position, place your pillow behind your head and neck but not your shoulders. To maintain a neutral position while sleeping on your back, ensure the pillow occupies the area between your neck and the mattress. Use a thicker pillow, if you prefer to sleep on your side.

4) Get Enough Sleep

Chronic back pain might have a wide range of causes, but one of them is how you sleep. Your ability to tolerate discomfort is lesser than it would be if you were getting enough sleep. According to studies, not getting enough sleep can make you more sensitive to painful stimuli. Essentially, lack of sleep causes uncomfortable inflammation, whereas getting enough sleep might lessen inflammation.

The reaction of your body to painkillers while you're sleep deprived is another aspect that can intensify back pain. The analgesic effects of codeine are reduced in sleep deprived patients compared to non-sleepy patients, according to a research of healthy normal adults. Your painkillers may work more effectively if you get enough sleep.

Relieve Your Back Pain at Gramercy Pain Center

Chronic neck pain and upper back pain can make sleeping difficult. In the event of upper back pain after sleeping, finding the right treatment is essential. The presence of back pain could be your body's means of alerting you to a medical condition that you should perhaps treat right away. 

Our team of experts at Gramercy Pain Center is here to help you understand the underlying reasons and give you the best available treatments for your back pain. Our pain clinic can solve all of your back problems in no time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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