I was talking to a mom, Jenny, that I met at one of my kids after school activities. Jenny was exhausted. I just assumed she was tired from something kid related but, no. She was having back pain that was keeping her up at night. Jenny was frustrated, overwhelmed on top of being afraid the pain would just get worse. I listened to all the things she tried in the hopes of relieving her lower back pain while she slept: sleeping in the recliner, rolling to each side, sleeping with a brace but nothing was helping.
I asked if her back hurt during the day or just at night. She said it ached but nothing that stopped her from doing things, until she laid down. She just couldn’t get comfortable and it was keeping her awake. Jenny has 3 kids, ages 2, 4, and 7 so she is always on the move.
Unfortunately, for Jenny not sleeping means her body is unable to heal or recover from the stresses caused in her daily life. So her not sleeping was a big deal for her overall health, (not to mention her mental and emotional state). Jenny told me the lack of sleep was already affecting her focus and her ability to stay patient with kids.
After we talked for awhile and listening to all the things Jenny had tried to stop her back pain; I offered a few additional suggestions on how to relieve her back pain while she slept.
Stretching before bed; a few minutes of gentle stretches before she gets into bed to calm her tight muscles. Our back muscles often are overworked and contracted then when we lay down to sleep these same muscles are stretched passed their comfort which causes serious pain. So by having Jenny gentle stretch at the end of the day her muscles will be more willing to relax with her in bed.
Icing her back: Icing her achy back for about 10 minutes, either in bed or just before bed, will her Jenny’s body eliminate any inflammation that’s developed throughout her day of picking up kids, playing with kids, and housework. Less inflammation = Less pain = better sleep for Jenny
A well placed pillow can make a world of difference. I gave Jenny two ways of sleeping since we didn’t know which would work better. Sleeping on her back: place the pillow under her knees. Helping her keep her knees and hip in a flexed position allowing her back to relax. Sleeping on her side: place her pillow omg ways between her knees and her feet. This will help control her hip position and will reduce the stress on her lower back.
How old is your mattress? Mattresses do wear out which causes them to lose the support they were made with over time. In Jenny’s case this was not an issue but I did have a client that showed me a picture of his mattress. There was literally a hole in the mattress that matched his exact shape...no wonder his back hurt. So now I alway ask.
See a physical therapy: After talking with Jenny at our kids after school program for a while she made an appointment with me. During the evaluation we discovered the route cause of her achy back, we didn’t need an MRI, she never required medication and she didn’t have to stop all the other activities in her life to allow her back to heal. We came up with a program and physical therapy scheduled that worked for her and her lifestyle. Now she is sleeping a full 8 hours...well on nights her kids let her sleep.
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald