Question: What causes back pain lying down?

My wife has low back pain only when lying down in bed at night. Her back feels the same in any position; nothing seems to relieve or increase the pain. She also has pain in the morning when she wakes up. No pain during the day.

Can you tell me what this might be? She is active and 41 years old.

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Doctor’s response: It may be osteoarthritis and joint pain

Your wife’s pain may be from osteoarthritis of the facet joints in the back, or some other sort of joint dysfunction. If there is pain in a joint, sometimes movement helps decrease it by lubricating the joint. Laying still allows it to ache more.

Mostly, manual treatments such as physical therapy or chiropractic tend to be good for this type of pain. However, prior to starting any further treatment, your wife should be seen and evaluated by a spine specialist (e.g. physiatrist or orthopedic surgeon/neurosurgeon).

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.