Can't Sleep Because Of Your Back Pain?

By Dr. Richard E. Busch III

Have you been up most of the night because of your back pain? Are you desperate for a decent night of sleep? Back pain can cause you to have insomnia. Many patients I have were suffering from this problem. Many patients I personally have treated used to try everything and had bought many products, in the hope they could be comfortable enough to sleep. They were actually praying to be able to sleep, but they could not because their sleep was interrupted because of their back. Some told me they felt like "Goldilocks" because they slept in all the beds in their house. Patients have also told me they had been sleeping on their couches or in their recliners for years, instead of sleeping in their beds. Sadly, they had not been able sleep with their spouses, for years, because of their back pain.

It is not unusual for people to sleep on the floor or put a board under mattress. They will buy body-pillows to prop up their legs or place between their knees. They try all types of pillows: memory pillows, contour pillows or even expensive down pillows. It could drive a spouse crazy because back pain sufferers often lay awake at night channel-surfing and ordering products from infomercials. They might buy sleeping aids, inversion tables, Ginsu knives, diet programs, and exercise programs, just to list a few. And it is understandable, as they are really ordering the promise of the hope to get better. It is a never-ending cycle with back pain and not sleeping. Many try heating pads, electric blankets, and soothing music.

Some back pain may resolve in a short time, and there can be temporary reasons for the pain. However, it can be a more serious problem, if the symptoms persist. Back pain and interrupted sleep can become a cycle, even though back sufferers try so hard to get some sleep. Many of my patients told me they had slept in every bed in the house, just like Goldilocks. Because they cannot sleep, they keep their spouses awake by tossing, turning and having the television on, or playing soothing music. While they are surfing late-night television, it is common that they watch infomercials and buy things such as inversion tables, aids for sleeping, diet, or exercise programs; all for the hope of pain relief and sleep.

Leading a sedentary life, improper posture, and sitting and peering at your computer screen can all be causes of back pain. Another reason is carrying weight around the middle. Pregnancy or simply being overweight can have the same results. Continually carrying around a child or carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder can cause back pain. Back pain can be temporary or short-term.

It is miserable not being able to sleep because of back pain; your nights can be agonizingly long. When the pain is so bad that it affects you day and night, you need to get to your doctor. However, this may be the beginning of what I call the "Medical Pipeline". There can many visits before you may have an actual diagnosis, because there are standard guidelines that doctors tend to follow.

Initially, many doctors hesitate to put too much time into diagnosing and just list your pain as "nonspecific" back pain. After the X-rays or MRIs are read, then you find out what your problem is during your next visit to the doctor. Should you have a condition such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc, or others such as spinal stenosis and facet syndrome, you most likely will be scheduled for a visit to a specialist - an orthopedic or a neurologist. At that point, it may be time for a spinal epidural, which most likely will not help for any length of time, or may not help at all. Or, surgery may be recommended.

If there is post-surgery pain, they may have to go under the care of a pain specialist. Some surgeries are successful and the symptoms are gone, others might last for two to five years or less, and some are not successful - failed surgery syndrome - at all. - 32188

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