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Back Pain

15 June 2019

My back hurts every morning – what could be causing this?

Back pain is often at its worst early in the morning. We explore four reasons why this may be the case.

Back pain affects around 25% of the world’s population on a daily basis, and is also one of the ten leading causes of disease worldwide.

If you find yourself waking up to waves of pain amidst the chorus of birdsong, it could be anything from a minor problem that can be resolved with a few simple changes, to something that requires serious medical intervention.

Here are four things that may be causing your back pain:

The wrong mattress

It seems like a no brainer, but many people ignore the importance of sleeping on the right mattress. Support is the most important factor in choosing a mattress, and the right mattress can really help you to have a good night’s sleep. Sleeping on a mattress that doesn't support you properly can be the cause of back pain or exacerbate existing backache. 

A lack of support from your mattress can prevent the proper alignment of the spine, which can lead to lower back pain. This Health24 article explains how to buy a mattress that places your body and spine in the position that causes the least amount of stress. 

Even if you've been waking up to pain for longer than you can remember, the correct mattress can literally fix your problem overnight. 

Inflammatory back pain

This is a rare condition characterised by inflammation of the sacroiliac joints and lower spine. It is frequently seen in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and is often serious. IBP is accompanied by early morning stiffness and pain in the back, with sufferers gradually becoming more supple as the day progresses. Activity helps ease the pain, while rest exacerbates it.

However, according to this NCBI study, although IBP tends to occur in patients with AS, it has also been linked to other chronic axial pain disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBS) and psoriasis. If these symptoms sound familiar, a trip to the doctor may be a good idea.

Overexerting yourself

Overdid it at the gym, and woke up with your back hurting like hell? It’s true that exercise can provide reliable back pain relief and can help strengthen your back, muscle soreness in your lower back can also be caused by pushing your body beyond its limits. 

“Warming up is crucial for warming up muscle tissue,” explained Seugnet of Ballet on Kloof to Women’s Health. “You will also feel less sore the next day if you stretched properly.”

Seugnet explained that our joints contain a fluid called synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints so that there’s less friction during movement. Warming up activates this fluid and loosens the joints.

Degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease is a syndrome where age-related wear and tear on the spinal discs leads to low back pain, known as spinal arthritis. Because the spinal nerves are compressed, mild to severe pain and stiffness can occur.

Medical News Today notes that these symptoms are worse in the morning, and that treatment options like physical therapy, using ice packs or a back brace can help with the pain. Solutions like disc replacement or spinal fusion require surgical intervention. 

Stretching your back muscles, practising good posture and getting enough calcium are some of the things you can do to prevent degenerative disc disease.

Image: iStock