how-should-i-sleep-to-relieve-back-painIf you are a back pain suffer there are a few things you know – it doesn’t quit when you sleep, it’s often worse when you wake up, and it creates a vicious cycle of not being able to get a restful night of sleep because of the pain but needing to rest in order to heal.  Back pain is one of the most common causes of disability across the globe. It ranks very high on the list of reasons for missed work days and visits to the doctor.

Where is my Back Pain Coming From?

Back pain can have a simple explanation, such as having a sports injury, lifting something too heavy, or having a slip and fall.  Some back pain can become chronic and more complicated to pinpoint. The nature of back pain can vary widely from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pain.  Some pain improves with movement, some worsens with any activity. As you can see, back pain is as complex as the spinal column itself, which is made up of vertebra, joints, muscles, discs, and ligaments.  Some of the most common origins of back pain include:

  • Muscle strain or ligament sprain – a sudden awkward movement or a repetitive use injury can cause you to “pull” a muscle in your spine or cause damage or irritation to the many spinal ligaments that support it.
  • Spinal arthritis – osteoarthritis can develop in the many joints of the spinal column, causing the cartilage that lines the joints to wear thin.  This can, of course, lead to pain as well as a loss of range of motion.
  • Spinal stenosis – when the central canal where the spinal cord passes through narrows, it can cause pain that can radiate down the legs and into the feet depending on where the problem is.
  • Disc bulge or rupture – the discs that sit in between each vertebra provide cushion for our body’s movements.  The discs can degenerate or become diseased for several reasons, including smoking and lack of proper movement.  This can cause the inner nucleus of the disc to push through the outer layers and put pressure on nerve roots or the spinal cord itself.  This can be extremely painful.
  • Osteopenia and osteoporosis – as you age, without the proper exercise and nutrition, your bones can become more brittle and porous.  This can increase your odds of back pain as well as the risk of compression fracture.

To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and back pain download our complimentary e-book by clicking the image below.

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Better Sleep for Back Pain Sufferers

Getting good quality sleep and the ability to wake up feeling rested and refreshed is important when it comes to healing from back pain.  In fact, the way you sleep can be contributing to the reason why you aren’t getting better. The following tips will hopefully be a part of your solution to returning to a life that is free of chronic back pain and problems:

  • Invest in a good mattress – if you’re sleeping on an old, worn out mattress, this might be the best place to start.  If you’ve had your bed for longer than about 5-7 years and you are waking up with a sore low back, stiff neck, or achy back, it might be time for a change.  When shopping for a new mattress, take your time and test out several options. Opt for a mattress that is firm or medium-firm to give your back the necessary support.  While soft, fluffy mattresses might feel appealing at first, they do not give your spine the support it needs through a full night of sleep.
  • Support your knees with a pillow – if you fall asleep on your back, try a small pillow roll underneath your knees – this can help ease stress on your lower back.  If you’re a side-sleeper, putting a pillow between your knees can prevent excess torque and tension on your hips and lower back.
  • Establish a bedtime routine – getting into the habit of winding down before bedtime can help you sleep better and with less pain.  Try taking a warm bath before bed – this can help your body prepare for sleep and can relax sore, achy muscles as well.  Limiting intake of caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, avoiding eating a large meal before bedtime, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark can all help you to wake up feeling better.
  • Avoid stomach sleeping – sleeping on your stomach, it is difficult (if not impossible) to maintain neutral spinal alignment.  Your neck must be turned to one side for hours at a time, and your lower back is over-extended as your stomach sinks into the mattress.  If possible, shift to sleeping on your back or side to take the best care of your back.
  • Pick the right pillow for you – back-sleepers need a fairly thin pillow that supports the natural curve in the neck without forcing the head too far forward.  People who sleep on their sides might need a little extra pillow height to fill the space between the shoulder and neck making sure that the neck is in as neutral of a position as possible.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for Natural Back Pain Relief

Regardless of where or why your back pain persists, upper cervical chiropractic care can help you to address the underlying cause of the problem.  We are a unique branch of chiropractic care that focuses on the alignment of the uppermost vertebra in the neck – the atlas (C1). The reason this area is so important to the overall health of the spine is twofold:

  1. The atlas bears the weight of the head and allows for its freedom of movement.  Because it moves so freely, it is also especially vulnerable to misaligning. When the head is not carried properly over the rest of the spine, it can lead to pain and problems anywhere in the neck and back.
  2. The atlas protects the brainstem, which is a critical component of the body’s central nervous system.  If these signals are impeded because of an atlas misalignment, pain and loss of function can arise as a result.

By examining and gently correcting the atlas, we can correct the cause of many back pain issues at the root, rather than chase around elusive symptoms.  This can yield results that are more than just temporary. To learn more about how we approach care, contact us at 1st Place Chiropractic to schedule a complimentary consultation.

 

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20369906

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/19/healthiest.sleep.position/index.html

https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/sleep-and-back-pain#1

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