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night time back pain

hulaw2007hhulaw2007 Posts: 44
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Lower Back Pain
Over the course of the last year I have been getting worsening pain at night. What happens is I fall asleep and wake up in severe pain. I try to roll over but I start to cry because it hurts so much to roll over and get out of bed. Rolling over is the worst. The pain is in my lower back. I am so exhausted. I do have a long history of back pain and had a microdiscectomy (L5-S1) 18 months ago, but never pain at night like this. The pain slowly dissipates during the day though never goes away and is worse in certain positions. I have an MRI scheduled for April 29 and will see my ortho pedist on May 6. I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on this or if there are any questions I should be asking my doctor about this.



  • Hi Kim. I have had the same problem for over 5 years. After at most 2 hours I wake up in severe pain. So I have to sleep in a recliner in a fairly upright position as that is the only way I can stop the muscle spasms. In the morning I can't bend to touch my knees but during the day this gradually eases as long as I don't lie down or slouch in a chair. The whole cycle repeats every night if I try sleeping in any bed/couch/flat surface. The only way I have found to get round the problem is my reclining armchair.

    I have recently been diagnosed with end stage degeneration of the L5-S1 disc and am due a fusion op in July. The surgeon said what is happening is because there is little or no disc left the vertebrae move and the muscles go into spasm to try and support the area. I have tried other options such as Pilates, physio, osteopath and muscle relaxant to see if this would break the cycle of spasm but nothing works. It has taken this length of time for them to diagnose the problem. I had an MRI which was conclusive but they also did a discogram which proved the problem was the one disc as the rest of the back is in a decent condition. Hopefully your MRI will show up something in this area and they can go from there!

  • Hey there, I find I hurt more at night. I also tend to have more leg and feet cramps at night.

    I'm 1.5 years out of my 2nd MicroD at L5S1.

    Some ideas to try that worked for me are
    - 8 hour release tylenol (I use store brand) has helped. If I don't want to use that, I also found that aspircream (?sp) which I rub on my lower back also helps.
    -Drink water before bed which forces me to get up to the bathroom in the middle of the night and walk around so I don't stiffen up.
    - pillow between my knees (if on side) and under knees (if on back); this also keeps me from trying to get on my stomach.

    Also, could it be time to get a new mattress?

    I hope you don't mind my suggestions. Let us know how the doctor goes.
  • Thanks for the reply. :-)
  • Turning over in bed is so very very painful for me. It takes me forever to do.

    I am sorry you are suffering :(
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I wonder if there is any scientific studies to show that the pain occurs mostly at night. Mine used to hurt like crazy in the wee hours at night, causing me endless sleep. Kim, what is the cause of your back pain?
  • I also wonder if it's time for new mattress. Before all my problems began, I used to get lower back pain and I felt it was my mattress - way too sinky and soft.

    So we took the great plunge for a sleep number bed where I can make my side as hard or soft as I need it any time. It's simply the best thing in the world, along with my $125 tempurpedic pillow, 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets and quilt. I've taken great pains (pardon the pun) to make my sleeping environment the very best it can possibly be.

  • I am starting to dread going to bed at night. Rolling over is really the killer, I start to cry many times. I cry out it hurts so much. What causes it? I don't know for sure. I did have a discectomy on L5-S1 in October 2009, which was a miracle for the leg pain which has completely disappeared. My back pain was gone for about six months after that (well, mostly). Then slowly it became worse and worse and is now unbearable. I am still in pain this morning - took two percoset, not sure if it is even helping at all. The MRI I had in June 2010 showed some scar tissue around the S1 nerve and showed DDD in that Lg-S1, decreased disc height and disc dessication all in the L5-S1. I have an MRI scheduled for Friday. I imagine it will show the L5-S1 is still a mess if not worse. The doctor is most likely planning a fusion at that level depending on the MRI results. I just am wondering if there might be another cause because its weird to just have the severe pain only at night. I certainly hope its what I expect and they just do the fusion and I have at least a chance to leave this pain behind. As for what caused it initially, I fell off a roof putting up Christmas lights ten years ago, I have never been the same since.
  • I am also very sorry you are having so much pain rolling over in bed, I know exactly how you feel. Its horrible. I am so exhausted I get so little good sleep.
  • I do think a new bed might be good even though ours is not what would be called old. I just don't think I can afford it. I do have an excellent pillow though. :-)
  • I don't think a new bed or mattress will solve the problem. I have tried sleeping on hard mattresses, soft ones, sofas, garden loungers, other beds when away from home etc. Nothing made any difference apart from a recliner which supports my back all the way down and I have to be in a fairly upright position. I used to have therapeutic back massages but found that I couldn't turn over or get up off the table and was worse than before I'd had the massage! I have also tried a special pillow between the legs and a lumbar support cushion - both were useless. I did get a foam bed wedge to put my back at a similar angle to the recliner and this does work a bit although I find the wedge which goes under your knees to stop you sliding down the bed cuts off the circulation. You could try them though as they do help.
  • I have tried the pillow between the legs thing and that has actually helped my hip pain some but not the back pain as much. But I am afraid a little of the the fusion surgery. But I feel like there aren't any alternatives anymore besides for sure living in pain all the time. I don't get enough sleep ever. Like, as in, ever. In fact I just got sick again, this time with strep throat, probably because I am not sleeping like a normal person and I have a high stress job. My work is suffering because of my lack of sleep too and the pain I am in much of the time. Thanks to everyone for their comments by the way . . .
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 10/22/2012 - 9:18 PM
    because it effect me BIG TIME ..i have sent you a PM but i dont think money spent on a bed is good money if you bed is ok..different story if your beds old and need replacing then i would go for an electrically adjustable with a sprung/memory foam combination .mattress,kath and i have spent thousands on beds .we purchased the top end tempur bed when it came out but both found it too soft {i gave my wife back ache } and i was unable to get off the thing with out help { i cant sleep on a flat bed now } due to pain the pain in the back gets worse at night because you are in one position. and your body starts to feel pain {more when you are asleep} as a safety precaution to warn you that you need to get up and sort it out .unfortunately with chronic back pain this situation continues as a life long problem {this is what my consultant told me that i will always have pain and it will get worse at night ..just like ALL his patients!.i know its not what you want to here .and there will be others on here that disagree with me ..all i can say to that {without malice} is your back pain cannot be as bad as others if you can sleep through the night .if your disc are partially or fully collapsed {end stage DDD} the pain from that is unbelievable .i am waiting for a fusion too .so good luck and keep in touch .a good recliner is a must so is a good a TENS
    for people with permanent back pain
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I have been suffering for years with my back but for the past 18 months it has become unbearable. The pain in my lower back makes me cry when I try to turn over. It takes a couple of attempts to stand up and the initial shock of putting pressure on my spine is agony. I cannot sleep for more than a couple of hours because I become completely rigid and rolling over is terrible. I have, over the years, had physiotherapy, acupuncture, traction, osteopathy, MRI scan and so many pain killers that I have developed ulcers. My doctors have told me that it is wear and tear and an ageing problem, 57 years old. Am not content with my doctors diagnosis as my friends are not suffering like this. I have bought 2 new beds in the last 5 years the last one cost a fortune but I did not feel any benefit. I recently tried pilates without much success. Has anyone managed to overcome this problem?
  • It doesn't seem to matter where I sleep, or on what, I still wake up after about 2 hours. The trouble with me is I get 'stuck' if I lay in one position for too long. Of course, I don't realise this, because I'm asleep, but if I'm trying to turn over in my sleep the pain immediately wakes me up.

    It can be hours before I can get back off again, and sometimes I don't sleep at all. And it's not so bad when I'm home all day and can grab 40 winks whenever I like.

    The test will be from next week - when I'm hoping to start my phased return to work. By the time I've worked up to doing whole days - if I haven't slept the night before and need to take more morphine solution (just to be able to get to work), I'm so worried about how the meds will affect my ability to concentrate - and I'll be so exhausted from a bad nights' sleep (as usual).

    I've been told by family that I'm 'overthinking' things and to just deal with any problems as they arise, but I just know what limited concentration I have now and can only see me making mistakes etc. further down the line. But they're right, I do seem to spend alot of time worrying before problems have even happened. I suppose that's all to do with the depression that can affect chronic pain peeps. It sucks!

    Kim - and everyone who can't sleep with the pain - I really hope you can find a comfortable place to put yourself at night. If/when you do, perhaps you'll let us know how you've done it so we can do the same?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • Thanks to those who got back to me. I never realised that so many people suffered with the same problem.
  • I've been having what sounds like very similar pain for quite a few months. the main problem is i can't roll over in bed at night or sleep on my back -- i wake up every hour or so in horrible pain and if i try to roll over it's unbearably painful. it's all in my very very low back all the way across and down around my tail bone area. it also hurts to sit down -- like when i get home from work at night and i sit down to take off my shoes, i can't stand the pain right when i sit down and then i can hardly reach my hands over to my feet to get my shoes off. or standing up again from having been in a seated position is equally as bad. and then certain specific movements like twisting to reach for something. I had a 2-level laminectomy/foraminectomy/discectomy at L4-L-5, L5-S1 in July, but it does not seem to have improved this particular problem. i've also had a facet injections, which did help immensely, but only for a couple weeks. one of my doctors just keeps telling me it's a muscle problem and giving me meds and telling me i need to strengthen my core, but i did PT for 8 weeks, and continue my exercises at home and my core is super strong, but the pain persists. i can't imagine living with this forever. i am only 51 and have always been very (possibly too) athletic. i also had to have a 4-level cervical fusion 4 years ago because of spinal cord compression after an injury, but that is all resolved now. i just have a feeling that this is something simple that they should be able to figure out and fix, but they can't seem to do it and it is driving me nuts.
  • and i am so much worse now than ever .night pain is just as bad as day pain .nothing i do helps .i am 16 years in pain and i don't know how much much my body can take .since my last post on this thread i have bought another mattress {the octaspring} its fantastic but with a bad as bad as mine it don't matter the pain wont shift ..i am scared ....more operations ???
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I am going through the same thing here somewhat. Herniated discs, waking up with bad lower back pain and hadn't been able to find relief using pillows under my legs, etc. Our bed is about 5 years old, but cannot justify buying a entire new one just yet and also cannot afford to. So went out and did something stupid...bought a Serta 4-inch memory foam mattress topper from Overstock.com thinking it would be my saving grace. My doctor even recommended a memory foam mattress to help my nightime back pain. Well I have had it for almost a month, and the thing is simply way too soft. It hasn't reduced my pain any, but has now given my wife a sore back. Now can't return it, so basically flushed money down the toilet, and am back to square one. So like others suggested, maybe there isn't a miracle cure bedding option like I was hoping for.
  • Voltaren is a good medication for back pain and it is also affordable
  • on beds and state of the art mattresses .and when you have a bad back like we have {not to be confused with normal adult back ache that goes away !!!} there is not a bed or mattress that will help that much .i have a tempur and i have a top end pocket spring/memory foam combo mattress and i now have the latest technology the dormeo octaspring .that's 3 layers of eight sided various density memory foam ;;;springs;; its very comfy but i still wake in pain {i have had a few good nights sleep on it and slept up to 7 hours BUT woke in horrific pain .i should imagine people with good backs or backs not as bad as mine would benefit from it .other than that i would suggest buy what you can afford just make sure that when you go bed shopping you take your pillow and lay as you would in your own home for at least 20 mins or so .a good bed shop wont mind
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I know this is a very old post but did they eve find out the problem? And are you able to go through the night? I had a microdisctomy L5-S1 10 weeks ago and about 5 weeks ago I started getting bad pain at night, can't roll over as in so much pain and can't walk or bend when I first wake.. But as day goes on I feel fine! Keep going back to docs to be given more pain killers but nothing is working. I dread going to sleep.
  • No strong opiates worked for me until I took a muscle relaxant with them. I could take as many painkillers and they hardly touched the pain.

    I take Rivotril, probably a different brand name in the US. They are supposed to be non addictive and work for me, They really eased the pain so much. Before that my muscle spasms were out of control. The physio would align my spine and my muscles would spasm it out straight away, actually this still happens even with muscle relaxants. That's why she tapes me now, in between muscle spasms. Guess I still have them but not nearly as bad as before.

    I still have pain but the muscle relaxants made an incredible difference. A pillow between your knees, as Meryle said works for me too. Day or night doesn't make any difference to my pain. It's there when I go to bed and when I wake up, so I guess it depends on your injury. Now someone has worked out mine is mechanical she has been able to give me the first pain free hours, sometimes days in eight years.
  • No one will help. I have the same thing and it gets worse when I try to sleep at night. I wake up and I will try to roll over and I just can't. It's like I am paralyzed. I cry and try to grab the edge of my bed an pull myself over it has gotten worse and worse over time and last night I woke up and I could barely do that it was the worse it has been . I thought that it was the end and I was never going to be able to get up and I was home alone last night because my BF was on 3rd shift. I often get stuck sitting on the toilet too, and that is the worst My Dr put me on Butrans patch last month and it works for the first 4 days or so. He told me I can take my Tylenol 3 for the last couple of days as needed and then change the patch at the 7 day mark (they are supposed to work for 7 days and then you change to the next patch), I did that with what I had left from the previous months prescription. I had an appointment on Wednesday and told him what was going on and that insurance won't cover the patch so I need to just take the Tylenol 3 alone again until he can try to get them to authorize covering the Butrans patch for me and that I needed a new RX for the Tylenol 3 (which was about 2 weeks over due anyways). I have 1 week left of the patches so I go to Walgreens which is were I have to get my RX filled according to my pain management contract. They refuse to fill it because I had the Butrans patch and will only allow me 1 type of this medicine. They call him and tell him he is going to lose his license blah blah so now I have the Tylenol 3 RX on hold till the Butrans patch is done.I have 4 more days left and for some reason the patch stopped working last night already I guess because of last night and I have nothing to help me thru this. I know it's only 4 more days but when you aren't sleeping and stressed out it seems like forever. I feel like I am being over dramatic but it hurts and I'm tired so of course I am going to be more dramatic than normal. I also read the reviews on the Butrans patch when I was trying to decided if I wanted to pay for it without insurance to try it and see how it works or not. Every forum and review I read other people were prescribed break thru pain meds also when I mentioned this to the pharmacy she told me no I don't think so they don't do that. Which of course made me really mad. The other part I hate is that my dogs need to go out when I finally do manage to get out of bed and I can't even bend over to leash them and I feel horrible making them try to wait to go out first thing in the morning that's just mean. I don't wish this on anyone ever. I understand what you all are going thru and I hope someone finds a way to help us.
  • I have never heard anything about the butrans patch not lasting the 7 days it is supposed to. Many doctors don't believe in the use of breakthrough meds, and especially in someone new to pain management........butrans patches do last the 7 days, in fact, this is the very first time that I have ever heard someone complain of them not lasting the entire time.
    It may be that some of the increased pain you are experiencing is related to your inactivity. I know that it is not what you are going to want to hear, but you can not lay in bed all day, and all night, because it will cause problems with your sleep patterns, it will hurt MORE to finally move around, and it will weaken your body......
    How often are you taking the Tylenol # 3? How often? And how many?
    What was your diagnosis regarding your pain? What doctors are you seeing? I can't recall so I am curious what is wrong with your spine and what other medications and treatments you are undergoing to improve ?
  • First time poster here but semi long time sufferer...!!

    I am 42 years old, about 5ft 9, weigh about 10and a half stone and about small to medium build. I see myself as averagely fit in health - I don't smoke and do not drink to excess.

    Within the last 6 months, I have been getting a really sharp pain in my lower back/side during the night whilst I have been asleep. If I am facing forwards, the pain is on my left side and round the back (lower back area) where all the muscles are.

    It really is quite a sharp pain is enough to wake me up every night. No amount of changing position whilst in bed, is enough to stop the pain so I just try t bare with it until it is time for me to get up in the morning (at 7am).

    The strange thing is, is that within half an hour of waking up and walking about, having my breakfast and walking out the front door heading to work, the pain subdues and has almost vanished. Certainly, by the time I am at my desk in the office, a good hour later, the pain has indeed completely disappeared...?!

    I get no pains during the day (I have an office job where I sit at a desk all day - I have a McKenzie lumbar pillow supporting my lower back as the office chairs are quite uncomfortable!) and certainly, no pains in the early evening when I am back at home.

    Its literally when its time to go to bed (I go up at about 11:30pm), when I fall asleep, I then wake up at around 3am in pain. Some nights are worse than others but I can normally get back to a light sleep as I try to block out the pain however, it does indeed stay with me until about half hour after I have woken up (as I stated above).

    I haven't been to a doctor as to be honest, there is probably not much wrong that he can find with me but wanted to post me views on here for some possible advice.
  • BrannonC4BBrannonC4 Posts: 1
    edited 07/03/2015 - 10:50 PM
    Hello, first time poster long time sufferer here.

    Firstly I'm 19 years old, and have suffered from back pain for 4-5 years now (cracking/popping when moving) and weazing when sitting down. Now for probably 2-3 weeks I've had this sharp pain in the top of my back during the evening & before bed. Last night I was up until 3am nearly crying lying against the bath tub with a cold flannel on my back ( seemed to subue the pain) I haven't felt a pain this horrible before and don't know where to turn. I feel like I'm too you young to have disc generation! No matter what position in bed it doesn't help at all so I've gone down the ibuprofen route for the meantime.I have planned to call the doctors on Monday and take it from there. Is there anything that anyone can suggest in the meantime?

    Thanks in advance.

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  • AMWoodyAMWoody SurreyPosts: 89
    Well I have finally found the post that I needed to see... My night time is becoming a real problem. I am 5 months post op discectomy and OMG turning over is unbearable. Like most of you I can cope with the day time but the night brings back a lot of my pre op pain..... My mind set is then affected and all sorts run through the mind like "what if I need more surgery" etc etc..... Well I don't know what the answer is and it is getting worse.....
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    This is an  very old discussion created by a member who has not been on the forum for a long time so I am closing it.
    If you need to discuss this further please start a new discussion.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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