sleep and low back pain

Lumbar osteoarthritis: Pain at night, what to do? (6 tips)

Lumbar osteoarthritis causes in some patients disabling pain that limits daily life. These symptoms unfortunately continue during the night in some cases, even if it means affecting the quality of sleep. We then fall into a vicious circle where non-restorative sleep aggravates the pain, and vice versa.


Where does the pain at night caused by lumbar osteoarthritis come from? How to get rid of it, and allow an environment conducive to healing? The answers in this article.

Lumbar Osteoarthritis: Definition and Anatomy


Lumbar osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects the joints in the lower back wears down and cracks, irritating the nerves around the bones, as well as the nerve roots nearby.


The wear of the vertebral joints at the lumbar level causes a vertebral compaction over time, as well as the formation of bony prominences called osteophytes.


Osteoarthritis can affect anyone, but it is most common in women and people over 50. The risk factors for osteoarthritis are mainly genetics, but also other factors such as a sedentary lifestyle or being overweight.


Although it can be asymptomatic in some people, it can also cause the following symptoms:


• Lower back pain
• radiation of pain in the lower limbs, sometimes associated with numbness, tingling and feeling of electric shock.
• Morning stiffness
• Muscle tension and spasms
• Reductions in range of motion of the lumbar spine
• Possible crackling, crackling or other noises in the lower back
• Feeling of weakness and/or general fatigue


To learn more about lumbar osteoarthritis, see the following article.


Why is lumbar osteoarthritis painful at night?


It is not uncommon for patients with lumbar osteoarthritis to complain of pain at night. Here are several potential reasons for this phenomenon:


  • Lying down can be uncomfortable and irritate the vertebrae in some individuals
  • The poor quality of the mattress can be responsible for pain
  • The static position during sleep increases muscle and joint stiffness, hence the aggravated pain on waking
  • Although there is no scientific evidence, it is possible that the temperature of the room and the level of ambient humidity influence osteoarthritis-type pain.
  • During the night, the attention can be focused more on the pain, unlike during the day when daily activities keep us busy.
  • If you are taking medication, the analgesic effect may wear off overnight, causing an increase in symptoms.



What to do to sleep better? (6 tips)



As sleep is very important for optimal healing, it is important to find strategies to sleep better at night. A health professional will be able to help you determine the cause of your lack of sleep, and find remedies adapted to your situation. 


In the meantime, here are some avenues to explore to relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of sleep:


1. Stay active


It is recommended to stay to promote proper sleep hygiene. If the pain limits the practice of a physical activity, a physiotherapist (physiotherapist) will be able to prescribe appropriate exercises (such as walking) that will not only treat lumbar osteoarthritis, but also maintain good health.


It is even possible to perform a stretching-type exercise routine just before sleep. These movements will have the effect of relaxing tense muscles, and thus controlling pain during the night.


Morning Unlock Program: Video Course

2. Breathing and meditation


In the presence of pain, it is possible to modulate the symptoms by practicing breathing techniques or meditation.


For example, the diaphragmatic breathing will have the effect of improving circulation and oxygenation of the body, in addition to desensitizing the nervous system.


La mindfulness meditation (Mindfullness in English), meanwhile, will reduce pain by inducing an environment conducive to relaxation and well-being.


3. Heat before bed


Lumbar osteoarthritis regularly causes contractures in the spinal, gluteal or psoas muscles. These muscular tensions contribute to the pain syndrome, which can limit the quality of sleep.


It is known that heat can relax tense muscles and relieve pain. Thus, placing a heating bag at the lumbar level just before sleeping can help you sleep better.


However, it is essential to limit the use of heat to a maximum of 15-20 minutes in order to avoid the risk of injury.


4. Adequate sleeping position


Poor sleep quality can be attributed to improper posture. In the presence of symptomatic lumbar osteoarthritis, it is preferable to optimize one's position in bed to increase comfort during the night.


The use of a knee cushion, for example, helps support the lumbar region, as well as avoiding lumbar twists or other awkward positions.


To learn more about the sleeping positions to be preferred in the presence of low back pain, see the following article.


5. Mattress


If you wake up in the morning with a lot of pain despite using proper posture, your mattress may be contributing to your pain. And even more if the aggravation of your back pain coincides with a change in your mattress, or a stay away from the comfort of your bed.


mattress and back pain


How to choose the right mattress? Of course, each person is different and may prefer a certain type of mattress. Some studies have shown that there is a type of mattress associated with less lower back pain upon waking, and less disability. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the soft mattress, nor the firm, but the semi-firm.


6. Natural Remedies


Although they are not always supported by solid scientific evidence, the use of natural remedies seems effective in relieving back pain caused by lumbar osteoarthritis. Several products are also used to help fall asleep and improve sleep hygiene.


A naturopath will be able to guide you according to your specific needs. It is also recommended to inform your doctor of any product consumed, in particular in order to avoid a potentially harmful drug interaction.


To learn more about natural products (as well as examples to relieve oneself), see the following article.

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