Why is my lower back pain worse in the morning?

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With age comes certain problems. One common problem among the elderly is a stiff back and a lower back pain. It is usually worse in the mornings just when you wake up. You would think that you would be rested and fresh in the morning but it seems to worsen in the morning and gets better over the course of the day. 

For every problem there is a solution. The solution is easier to find if you know what the problem is. The root cause for the problem could  be anywhere between a medical condition or something as simple as a bad bed or a poor sleeping position. Small changes can usually bring the biggest difference to your back pain and solve them in some cases.

Medical Conditions

It is always good to get professional advice when its related to your health. Online articles may help you diagnose a problem to some extent but would never give you the clarity required. A professional can put good clarity to your problem by analyzing reports and getting to do some tests. If there are underlying medical conditions , it is good to know earlier than when it becomes worse. Do not worry, most of the problems related to back pain will have to do with only minor problems, usually age related or sometimes very temporary like pregnancy .

Getting a doctors advice will also give you a clear idea of what you are dealing with and once you know that the problem is not medical, you would have to make a few lifestyle changes to solve the  problem.

Possibilities of back pain related to medical conditions

There are numerous possibilities and most of them are easy to recover from. We will discuss the most common problems which are related to back pain here, and specially back pain which gets worse in the morning

  1. Pregnancy : women are more susceptible to lower back pain than men and then there is pregnancy which adds up to the numbers. Women in their 5th to 7th month often experience lower back pain in the morning due to excessive stress and pressure from the rest. Mattresses can decrease the pressure but do not be very excited about it and spend $1000 on a new mattress. Chances are, your mattress is just fine and this is a phase you will have to go through. 

    When pregnant, women tend to take more rest and this causes a stiffness in the back and thus the pain. Also most women find that they stay in one position in bed for a longer time period. Without changing positions, chances are that your muscle tightens, creates stiffness and pain follows. During pregnancy, try to move around, walk frequently and indulge in light stretches, especially for your legs. This may reduce lower back pain in the morning.
  2. Fibromyalgia : the condition is not treatable and is not a problem which stays for a long period. Fibromyalgia is a widespread condition which creates a range of symptoms. If you experience fatigue, memory problems, and sleep issues, chances are you need a doctor’s consultation. Lower back pain is one of the few symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Since there are no treatments for fibromyalgia, doctors often recommend pain medications to ease the pain and help you sleep. And yes, Fibromyalgia is more common in women!
  3. Disc Degeneration: disc degeneration is an age related disease which directly affects the back among other areas. For lower back pain , disc degeneration may be a common reason among elders. The problem occurs when the disc between your spine deteriorates and the treatment usually is non invasive. Stretches, massage and exercises are common remedies for degenerative discs , though at times a minor surgery can help too in extreme cases. 

Non Medical Causes of Lower back pain

  1. Exercise & Poor posture: If you are young and if you have been working out lately and specially on something new, you may want to consider what you are doing wrong. Ask your trainer to guide you through some of the processes and stay with you while you work out. Most people don’t really know what they are doing wrong when they are working out. They are so engrossed in the activity, that they fail to look at the stress they put in. Poor posture could be one of the major causes of Lower back pain in general and when you will never know it at the time. The pain is usually heightened after a period of rest , usually in the mornings. 
  2. Sleeping positions and posture : Most people sleep on their sides. We change positions and keep turning around in bed throughout the night. If you don’t turn around frequently, there are chances of you getting stiff. It may be your back , your arms , your legs or your neck. It depends on how you sleep, how long you are in a position and where the strain is most. Sleeping on the sides is easy on your back, but chances are that your arms are going to feel sore if you are in that position for a long time. For a person suffering from a poor back it is  usually the position. Sleeping on your back will put pressure on the mid and lower back, creating stiffness, tightening the spine area, creating back pain. 
  3. Poor mattress : there are some times when the mattress is actually the culprit. While most people blame the mattress for a poor back , especially if it’s worse in the morning, this is actually not true. Your mattress may be perfectly ok and you may just be sleeping wrong or you did something bad the past day or two. But when you know that there is no other specific reason for your back pain and when you have rounded it up on your mattress, consider if your mattress is too firm or too soft. Either is bad for your back. Consider getting a topper before you get a new mattress. They are cheaper and could solve the problem. If your mattress has worn out and is bumpy with irregular shapes… then you may actually be right. Time to change the mattress after all.

Solutions For Lower back problems in the morning

These solutions should not be taken as medical advice. If you have consulted a doctor, ask him/her for recommendations and ask before moving forward. Though these advice are 100% harmless, certain medical conditions, especially those who have gone through a recent surgery , no matter how minor, should completely avoid these exercises or get advice from a doctor.

Lower back pain indicates 2 problems. A weak spine and a weak core muscle. A weak spine can be strengthened with stretches and yoga and the core muscles with some moderate workout. The key to exercise is moderation, especially when you have an injury. Exerting yourself will only worsen the condition. Start with 1 set of 8 reps. Go to 2 sets in a week or even two weeks. And then gradually increase to 3 sets. Stay at 3 sets for a month or even two. Only increase your reps or sets when you feel confident and the need to do more. Never exert yourself when doing any of these workouts.

  1. Surya Namaskar : The surya namaskar involves 12 simple steps or postures and is considered stretches. It’s a full body stretch which has a good focus on your back. Doing 8 reps of this workout will benefit your spine and your entire body in more ways than you would ever know. If you find it hard to perform 8 reps, start with how many ever you can do. If you are not able to perform a particular pose, check out some of the variations which are easier .
  2. The child pose:  It’s one of the easiest yoga poses you can do and stretches the spine to a comfortable level, easing back pain efficiently. Doing this, first thing in the morning will ensure that your pain is relieved at a faster pace.
  3. Cat cow pose : the Cat pose involves stretching the spine outwards and the cow pose involves stretching the spine inward. Your movements are required to be graceful and you should hold the position for a short while. Both these poses have an effect on your spine and stretches it effectively.

Note : For those who are pregnant, avoid these exercises altogether. 

Wake Up Refreshed: The Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain Exposed!

Core training

For those who have a weak core, its important you strengthen it with regular exercise. Exercise should not be stressful and should be done in moderation. While these exercises seem simple, they go a long way in building your core.

  1. Walking : Consider walking a set number of kilometers/miles. Dont take time into consideration for the first few weeks. You may be able to complete a mile in 20 minutes the first day. Make sure that you track this time and never fall ahead of this time. So next day your walk should be over in 20 minutes per mile or lesser but not 21 minutes or more. Gradually increase the number of kilometers while trying to reduce the time. Do not go into a jog unless you are extremely confident that you can. Its more important to walk faster than to jog. One hour of fast walk is all that you should aim for and ensure that the walk is fast and not a drag.
  2. Plank. The plank is one of the few exercises that beginners underestimate at a gym. It’s a simple sedentary position of you lying down on your stomach and raising yourself on your elbows and toes. Entire body is in a straight line and you hold the position for as long as you can. This workout is safe for most people, unless you are under some sort of medication or if you are advised not to do them by a doctor. Pregnant women should avoid this workout. Do 3 sets of planks every day and each set should last till you can hold the position.

Indulging your core and strengthening them is key for a strong back muscle which will ensure that your back is stronger and free from pain. 

With these simple changes you will see a significant change in your lower back pain, not just in the morning but through out the day.