The Following Blog is a guest post collaboration with our friends at The Sleep Help Institute, https://www.sleephelp.org/ . Check out their website for resources on sleep and sleep products!
Most people (about 80 percent (2) of adults) will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant throb or sudden and sharp incapacitating stab and may last a few weeks or longer than a few months.
Back pain is a common condition (1) in the United States, and although anyone can experience back pain, there are risk factors. Adults may experience back pain that gets worse slowly, or it may come on quickly after a fall, injury, or lifting something too heavy. Back pain can also develop over time due to age or sedentary lifestyles.
Risk factors for back pain include:
Age. Advancing age means back pain becomes more common with loss of bone strength, muscle elasticity, and flexibility in discs.
Fitness. Inactivity followed by heavy activity can be a risk factor, and being overweight can put stress on the back. Regular moderate physical activity may lower the risk of back pain.
Work. A physically demanding job that involves lots of spinal movement can cause injury or back pain. A sedentary job can be the source of pain as well, especially for those with poor posture.
Treatment options for back pain include:
Stretching and movement. Although many people experiencing pain prefer to stay in bed, stretching exercises and normal daily activities can offer better flexibility.
Strength training. Although strength training may not be helpful for those recovering from back pain, it is a good preventive treatment. With good muscle strength, back pain may be avoided. Physical therapy can offer training that strengthens the muscle groups that support the back.
Chiropractic care. Chiropractic adjustment, massage, electronic stimulation, and other treatments can offer relief for back pain. Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that may be helpful for back pain.
Hot and cold therapy. Alternating hot and cold packs may ease pain and inflammation.
Choosing a Mattress for Back Pain
The right mattress can offer relief for people who suffer from back pain, taking pressure off sensitive areas including your lower back, hips, and shoulders. But the wrong mattress can cause pressure and may exacerbate back pain issues.
Ideally, a mattress shouldn’t put pressure on the shoulders or sacrum (3). But it’s important to avoid a bed that is too soft, either. Generally, a medium firm mattress will be the most comfortable (4). However, there are exceptions. For example, overweight or obese people may benefit from a firmer mattress, and people who are underweight may need a softer mattress.
Your sleeping position can influence back pain as well. Generally, sleeping on your back is the best choice for avoiding back pain. Side sleeping can be a good choice, especially if you place a pillow in between your knees. Stomach sleeping is not recommended, as it can put too much pressure on your back.
Back pain is common, but you don’t have to live with it. Effective treatment and healthy sleep habits can help to alleviate back pain.
(4) Radwan, Ahmed. “Effect of Different Mattress Designs on Promoting Sleep Quality, Pain Reduction, and Spinal Alignment in Adults with or without Back Pain; Systematic Review of Controlled Trials.” Science Direct, Sleep Health, Dec. 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721815001400