Back Pain at Night: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain in the U.S. Over 80% of adults will experience it at some point in their lives, with more severe cases resulting in spinal stenosis, arthritis, or other long-term chronic pain conditions. While minor back pain may not be a concern after a long day at work or when sleeping on a new mattress for the first time, it can become worrisome if you experience it every night. 

Some types of back pain become worse at night or can keep you awake, causing more problems during the day. If your back pain gets worse at night, it may be from one of these four causes: 

An uncomfortable bed.

If you’re waking up in the middle of the night with back pain, or feel like your back pain is worse after sleeping, it could be caused by your mattress or sleeping position. A mattress that is too soft may not support your spine properly, while a mattress that is too firm can cause aches in the muscles. You may also need a pillow to support your knees or spine depending on the sleeping position that is most comfortable to you.

Pregnancy symptoms. 

Around 50% of women experience acute back pain during pregnancy, especially in later stages. In a recent survey of 200 pregnant women, ⅓ of those who experienced back pain reported worsening symptoms at night with many experiencing sleep disturbances. If the back pain has only started after pregnancy, it may be related to your body’s changing demands. 

Poor posture.

If you sit at a desk all day and come home with an aching back, it may be due to your daytime posture. Factors such as wearing high heels, bending down often during the day, or heavy lifting can also contribute to posture and movement-related nighttime back pain. If this is the case, you may need to exercise your back or support your posture with the right chair or a back brace 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis in the spine and the joints between the spine and pelvis. The most common symptoms include pain and stiffness in the back which can worsen at night and disturb sleeping patterns. In a 2018 study, morning stiffness and pain that interrupted or prevented sleep were the two most common symptoms of this type of arthritis. 

If you are experiencing nightly back pain that doesn’t go away with simple lifestyle adjustments, you may want to talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment options. Very rarely, back pain can be a symptom of a more severe injury or illness and should always be addressed with care. 

To learn more about back pain or to talk to a doctor about your symptoms, contact your local PPOA clinic today.