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Why Does My Back Hurt After Sleeping?

Apr 19, 2022

Why Does My Back Hurt After SleepingWaking up with back pain is never a great way to start your day! You hope to get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling well-rested and ready to start your day. The last thing you want to worry about is back pain that leaves you feeling stiff, sore, or uncomfortable. If you wake up with back pain, then it could be a sign of a health condition that may require comprehensive back pain treatment. Talk to your orthopedic doctor if you experience back pain after sleeping to find the cause of your pain.

Causes of Back Pain After Sleeping

If your back hurts after sleeping, then it is likely because of one of these causes. Back pain can occur all over or in one part of the back and may last for minutes, hours, or even days at a time. Here are common causes of morning back pain.

Poor Daytime Posture

You may not realize how much your posture during the day affects your quality of sleep until you wake up the next day with morning back pain. Poor daytime posture can cause the muscles that support your back to weaken. Those weakened muscles may become stiff and sore after a night of sleep. Added stress and pressure on your spine throughout your day can also make for an uncomfortable night’s sleep and leave your back feeling tender and sore the next morning. If you’re stuck at the desk all day, find time to take a break and practice our back-saving posture techniques at work.

Poor Sleep Posture

The way you sleep can also lead to back pain after sleeping. Poor sleep posture can refer to whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach. Your mattress and pillow support can also play a role in your sleep posture and comfort or discomfort. If your mattress is too soft and you sleep on your back, then you may experience lower back pain after sleeping. Sleeping on your side or stomach can also negatively impact the natural curve of the spine.


Sciatica refers to a specific type of lower back pain that causes pain, tingling, and numbness that extends into your hip, buttock, and leg. The sciatic nerve is located at the base of the spine and can become aggravated or pressured, which results in sciatica symptoms. Certain sleeping positions can make sciatica pain worse. Lying down can make sciatica worse, and many people with sciatica experience worsened symptoms in the morning.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc refers to when a spongy spinal disc that separates spinal vertebrae aggravates nearby nerves. A healthy spinal disc provides stability and shock absorption for the spine with its tough outer shell and gel-like nucleus. A crack or tear in the disc can cause the inside of the disc to spill out and press on nearby nerve roots. This can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in your back and areas controlled by the compressed nerve. Certain sleep positions can make herniated disc pain worse, especially after sleeping in one position overnight.

Degenerative Disc Disease

As we age, the spinal discs and vertebrae in the spine start to wear down, known as degenerative disc disease. Spinal discs can start to dry out and lose their elasticity and ability to absorb as much shock to the spine. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility in your neck or back. Issues with spinal discs can also compress nearby nerves and lead to symptoms like tingling, numbness, and weakness that extend into the extremities. Pain from degenerative disc disease can get worse with sitting or lying down, especially in one position for a long period of time, like while you sleep.

Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatment Options

Work with your orthopedic doctor to find out what exactly is causing your back pain after sleeping. This will help determine the best course of treatment to help you. In most cases, your doctor will want to start with non-surgical treatment options to help relieve morning back pain. Here are common examples of back pain treatment options to help with a wide range of conditions and concerns.

Improve Posture

One of the best ways to help reduce back pain day or night is to work on improving your posture. Supporting a neutral spine throughout your day and while you sleep at night can help significantly reduce your pain and discomfort. A chiropractor can help you improve your posture through therapeutic techniques to resolve misalignments in your spine. Your doctor may also recommend certain sleeping positions to help reduce your pain at night. Using pillows for support can help you maintain a neutral spine in your preferred way of sleeping. For example, side sleepers can place a pillow between the knees to help keep the lower spine supported while you sleep.

Reduce Inflammation

Swelling and inflammation in and around the spine can cause pain and discomfort while you sleep and when you wake up. An injury or condition to the spine that causes pain and swelling can aggravate nerves and muscles. There are many ways to help reduce inflammation in addition to over-the-counter medications. Applying a cold compress can help swelling go down, especially before you go to sleep. Your doctor may also recommend a chiropractor or physical therapist to help.

Strengthen Muscles

Improving muscle strength can also help reduce back pain after sleeping. When your muscles are weak, they are not able to effectively support your spine. Weak muscles make it easier to slouch and engage in poor posture throughout the day. Your doctor or physical therapist can walk you through stretches and exercises to help strengthen your muscles and improve your overall mobility.

Increase Flexibility

A physical therapist can also help you increase flexibility in your back to help support a healthy spine. If you wake up feeling stiff and sore, then your back muscles may need some attention. Stretches and exercises can help loosen up tight muscles and improve your range of motion. The more flexible you are, the better your body can accommodate healthy postures throughout your day and night.

Visit AICA Orthopedics near you and find out how to get lasting relief from back pain after you sleep. Our team of Atlanta doctors will provide you with quality, comprehensive back pain treatment so you can wake up feeling well-rested and rejuvenated each day.



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