Best Sleeping Positions for Back Pain | Gleneagles Hospitals
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Bone & Joint Health
Preventive Care

Practice These Sleeping Positions if You Have Lower Back Pain

17 April 2023 · 4 mins read


Lower back pain can interfere with sleep whereas sleep deprivation might increase the likelihood of experiencing pain. Learn more about the best sleeping positions for lower back pain.

Low back pain is typically classified as:

  • Acute - lasting four weeks or less
  • Subacute - lasting four to 12 weeks
  • Chronic - lasting more than 12 weeks

Lower Back Pain Causes

Low back pain is relatively prevalent with more than 80% of people experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime. It can be unpleasant when it interferes with everyday routines.

Typically, back pain may not indicate a serious medical condition and it usually resolves on its own. While the majority of cases of acute pain recover quickly, some individuals may experience chronic pain.

Some common causes are:

  • Disc wear and tear due to aging
  • Slipped disc or disc bulging
  • Sciatica (trapped nerve)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle spasms and strains
  • Ligament ruptures or sprains
  • Trauma to the back
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteoporosis, causing the bone to be porous and easily fractured
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Occupational back pain: Improper lifting, sitting at the desk all day with poor posture or lack of back support or driving all-day
  • Tumours (cancerous or non-cancerous)
  • Inflammation

Lower Back Pain Risk Factors

  • Typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50
  • Having excess weight can put stress on your back and cause pain
  • Genetics
  • Sleeping positions
  • Lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and smoking
  • Depression and anxiety can influence back pain
  • Heavy backpacks can strain the back of children

Lower Back Pain Treatment Options

Typically, most cases of acute back pain resolve fairly quickly even if there is a bulging or herniated disc.

Many worry that being active exacerbates their back injury or delays their recovery. However, staying as active as possible is one of the best things you can do for your back.

If your back pain is severe, you may need to rest your back for a day or two, but prolonged bed rest is not advised. Continue doing your regular daily activities and light exercises, including walking.

If your back pain does not improve despite rest, your doctor may prescribe analgesics or medications to relax your back muscles.

If your pain still does not improve after a few weeks, your doctor may offer alternative therapies such as physiotherapy with specific exercises to help reduce lower back pain by relieving muscle tension and strengthening the muscles in the lower back.

Only some individuals with low back pain will need surgical intervention.

Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain and sleep have a complex relationship. Lower back pain can interfere with sleep whereas sleep deprivation might increase the likelihood of experiencing pain.

On top of that, sleeping positions or sleeping on a mattress that does not adequately support the lumbar spine may cause or exacerbate lower back pain as well.

A good night's sleep is important for physical and mental health. Here are some tips to offer pain relief and improve your sleep quality when you have back problems:

  • Sleeping on the side with a pillow between the knees to help align your hips, pelvis, and spine, reducing pressure on your lower back.
  • Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees can help to align your spine and reduce pressure on your lower back.
  • Sleeping on your stomach with a pillow under your abdomen can help reduce pressure on your lower back, but it is not recommended for people with certain conditions like herniated discs.

Worst Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain

Sleeping on your stomach can cause your spine to arch and strain your lower back muscles and vertebrae.

Make an Appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

The best supportive sleeping position for lower back pain may vary based on the individual's condition and preferences. Speak to your doctor or a physiotherapist to know more about best sleeping position for lower back pain.

The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care. Get in touch with us to book an appointment with an Orthopaedic specialist at Gleneagles Hospital today.

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