Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Sleep Easy with Back Pain Tips

Chronic back pain disrupts sleep as it is hard to find a position to alleviate the pain or a position that won’t make the soreness worse when you get up in the morning. Studies now suggest that not getting enough sleep can make you more sensitive to pain because you are not getting the deep sleep (NREM) your body needs to restore and repair itself. See: Stay Healthy by Getting Enough Sleep for more information regarding NREM sleep. Other medical conditions that are affected by little deep sleep are rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia can cause tenderness throughout the body and is linked to fatigue and anxiety. Anxiety will make it harder for you to fall asleep easy and stay asleep which can worsen the pain.

If you are heavy and have back pain you might also be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The drugs often prescribed for back pain can exacerbate or cause OSA. Also if you sleep on your back the extra weight on your neck can restrict airflow making you snore and stop breathing periodically during the night. Other medications that impair sleep are for the following conditions; high blood pressure, epilepsy and ADHD.

Many doctors prescribe medications that will help you get some sleep, but these drugs have side effects and a potential for addiction. Ambien may be one of the medications prescribed, but should be used only as directed and for a short-term use as with some over-the-counter medications like aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofens. Prescribed drugs for back pain may include an antidepressant, an antidepressant and pain reliever or a muscle relaxant and should be taken three months or less as these drugs can result into a dependency. The goal is to improve your sleep pattern, not create a drug habit.

How to sleep easy with back pain tips? Since anxiety can increase back pain and make it harder to sleep. Try to calm yourself down before bedtime. Take an hour or so to relax by taking a warm bath or doing some light exercises. Your doctor or physical therapist can provide some helpful exercises that include relaxation techniques. Yoga can also create a balance in the body through various poses that develop flexibility and strength.

Balneotherapy is one of the oldest therapies for pain relief as it is a form of hydrotherapy that involves bathing in mineral water or warm water.

• A study compared bathing in mineral water to plain tap water in 60 people with low back pain. They found that mineral water containing sulphur was superior in reducing pain and improving mobility compared with tap water.

• A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Rheumatology assessed spa therapy and balneotherapy for low back pain. The researchers found that the data suggest beneficial effects compared to control groups. They concluded that the results were encouraging and that large-scale trials were warranted.

Dead Sea salts and other sulphur-containing bath salts can be found in spas, health food stores, and online. People with heart conditions should not use balneotherapy unless under the supervision of their primary care provider.

Eliminate sleep stealers like caffeine, eating a heavy meal or hot, spicy foods before bedtime, don’t medicate with alcohol and remove all electronics from your bedroom as the light they emit will reduce your melatonin production, a hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle.

Try acupressure as an alternative to medications. How does acupuncture work? According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain results from blocked energy along energy pathways of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these invisible pathways. A scientific explanation is that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.

When many people have back aches and pain, the first thing they think of is massage. Studies have found that massage may be effective for subacute and chronic pain. It has also been found to reduce anxiety and depression associated with chronic pain. Massage therapy is the most popular therapy for low back pain during pregnancy.

Most importantly choose a comfortable mattress and pillow that suits your back pain needs. If yours is too soft or too firm you may consider a memory foam mattress pad or sleep with a pillow under or between your knees depending on your sleeping position.

According to WebMD these three sleeping positions are best for different types of chronic back pain:

Sleeping on your side

By making simple changes in your sleeping position, you can take strain off your back. If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and put a pillow between your legs. Use a full-length body pillow if you prefer.

This position may be particularly helpful if you have osteoarthritis in the spine, spinal stenosis — a narrowing in the spine — or hip pain.

Sleeping on your back

If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support. Support your neck with a pillow.

This position may be helpful if you have low back pain.

Sleeping on your abdomen

Sleeping on your abdomen can be hard on your back. If you can't sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Use a pillow under your head if it doesn't place too much strain on your back. If it does cause strain, try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

This position may be helpful if you have degenerative disease or a herniated disk in the central portion of your spine.

While the best way to get a good night's sleep is to get rid of chronic back pain, this is not always possible. Other factors such as stress, anxiety and depression that affect sleep and back pain might also need medical attention. Many people put up with pain, when in fact most back pain can be helped and treated successfully. Don't give up on finding a treatment that can work for you. The content in How to Sleep Easy with Back Pain Tips is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

What does your sleep position say about you? Discover your sleep position and find out how you can rest easier and healthy. There are a number of sleeping positions that you might find comfortable and at the same time promotes proper blood flow. Having a correct sleeping position would prevent that stiffness and soreness you might experience during mornings.

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