Back problems and insomnia

Having back problems of any kind can really interfere with your sleep – it's not just the pain, it's the fact that you often have to adopt new sleeping positions, etc.

Back problems can in some ways be as isolating as insomnia. So how about a place where those of us with both can swap tips and advice, and find specific support?

Posted 25 Mar 2013 at 10:21 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    How does anybody here manage their back problems? For me, it's not so much the painful back as the headaches that I get when lying down…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi kate – you don't seem to be getting much response on this.
    I never got headaches associated with my bad back but sleeping was difficult because it was hard to get comfortable. I ended up stuffing pillows all around me to hold me in place including one between my legs! My problem was caused by a fall that (the physio said) had caused 2 vertebrae to briefly sort of dislocate but they went back together straight away. The pain actually didn't come on immediately and was caused by stretching the ligaments when that happened…...I think that's what she was saying anyway. It took about a year to recover completely and I still do strengthening exercises every day.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hello Kate,
    As a bad back sufferer of some 20+ years maybe I could throw my hat into the ring so to speak, like nj I have for some time stuffed pillows between my legs,tried sleeping with various amounts of pillows, tried flat on my back, tried almost everything,
    The headaches you are getting could be caused by cervical spine, if so may I be as bold this. Suggest trying a pillow that supports your neck.
    Ok a little history on my back problems ( still ongoing) years ago I had a fall from my motorbike since I have had a bad back, painfull sciatica do not one leg, had my back manipulated under general. Anaesthetic also at the same time had all my facet joints injected, some time. Later I had nerve denervation all seemed to work for a while, however I still have probl ms with my back legs and feet,
    I hope you get some answers. And some relief, keep your chin up, Tramadol. Is great for headaches, only worth a word with your GP
    All the best…...Andy

  • Sleepio Member

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    Thanks Andy and Nightjar, that's very helpful. Wow, Andy – yikes!

    Got the X-ray report back yesterday and there is indeed cervical spine deterioration / damage which is causing the headaches (also some deterioration/damage to lumbar spine), waiting for the actual images as the standard report is a bit vague. Doc prescribed very low (10mg) dose of Amitriptyline for the headaches – nerve pain – but it will take time to kick in. One side effect of the Am is drowsiness, waiting to see if that will kick in too! I'm still fiddling about with pillows etc and haven't quite got there yet.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I'm not sure what a body pillow is. When I have my recurring lower back problem I sleep with a pillow between my knees if I'm on my side or with the pillow under my thighs if I'm on my back. Both of these work to prevent your back from being strained. Much more comfortable.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I have back/neck pain due to my hypermobility. My muscles have to work hard during the day to hold me up so I try to get positioned at night so the muscles can relax too.

    I use a body pillow (giant 5 foot long pillow) that lies next to me in bed. I sleep on my side with the top leg bent and resting on top of the body pillow and my top arm hugging it (a little like the recovery position if you have done first aid training).

    For my neck it took quite a lot of trying of different pillows. I now use an Ikea Gosa Lilja memory foam pillow for side sleepers. It has a cut out for your shoulder to nestle into and a raised section that fills the hollow between your jaw and shoulder (hard to describe but basically helps keep my neck in a straight line). I put a thin normal pillow underneath to bring it to the correct height.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi Katecelyn-

    Two recommendations for you as I've had similar issues and I'm a person who likes to get at the root of the issue. Spinal deterioration will continue with age so I think the below are 2 non-drug alternatives that work.

    1. Have you tried acupuncture? It's very, very effective for both of those conditions. I was skeptical at first but amazed at how well it works if you can find a trusted provided. It's worked for me and my friend who has had 3 back surgeries. The headaches are also something that after a few sessions disappeared.

    2. For my back, I also do yoga. It might seem counter-intuitive and that yoga requires flexibility but thats hardly the case. A gentle yoga class is like physical therapy for the back. Of course, I would start very slow but I found that a lot of other things improved once I started doing yoga.

    God luck!

  • Sleepio Member

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    I find it depends on a few things, like what I've been doing during the day and if that's had a physical effect on my body.

    Also finding a comfortable pillow and finding a good sleeping position (for me, that's on my front even though back pain sufferers are told to avoid that position.)

    At least an X-ray report helps you know what you're dealing with. All the best.

  • Sleepio Member

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    It's a been nearly a year since the last entry on back pain, hope someone's still listening?
    I damaged my back in 2006, work related injury (no compensation, deemed my own fault, in other words my word against theirs!) I damaged the lumber region which has limited my movement and gave me chronic back pain too. It took years to get it under control or I just got semi use to it. But the moor excercise I do the moor painful it become. I've looked for that barrier to clime over and I've tired so hard I ended up in hospital again. Since then I can only go out shopping or uni in a wheel chair as walking is now so painfull just 100 yards will finish me for the day! Now though it's limit my activities and keep on top of the drugs. I Evan take Oramoph (morphine based) which helps when I do over do things, and no it only helps sleep slightly.
    At bed I sleep on my side, with a pillow between my legs, I can not lie flat on my back any moor, but either side will do but to turn over is quite an effort and is probably the most reason for me waking for long periods in the night. The rest of the nights awakening is due to worry on financial and study work. Every day is a battle to survive when on benefits Evan as a disabled person I struggle to live. I am restudying for a new career but at times I just won't to give up. I haven't and I'm in my final year now but also the hardest too as on top of every thing my wife has given up and left. So now I'm trying to come to terms with loneliness too. I like to think I'm a survivor but after 8 years it's getting Evan tougher! I'm here doing sleepio to help me rest and sleep so I may be that bit fitter to take on the days battle. Well that's a bit off my chest ! Have good night all. xx

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hello Coco man, it sounds like you have more than your fair share of burdens to deal with. If you have lumbar damage, it's probably best to get advice from a physio about trying any exercise and movement. I have a comparatively minor problem (compared to yours) with sciatic nerve and sacroiliac pain, and I found the best relief I got was from a couple good physios.

    I admire your determination, you're a real inspiration of dealing with adversity head on. Having got to your final year is a huge achievement – not much more to go in that race now before you reach the goal.

    Have you tried the Relaxation download on the sleepio site? That may be a source of some comfort and help. I also found the Thought Checker was a very good tool for all sorts of worries, not just about sleep. It doesn't take away big issues like pain and student debt, but I think it helps with keeping things in a more positive perspective.

    I hope you get some better times ahead, and keep up your fighting spirit. I send you all good wishes.
    Marie

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi Coco man,

    I am so sorry to read of your struggles against pain. Like you, I damaged my back quite badly at work but I did not enter a worker's compensation claim because I wanted to go to the specialists I thought could help me the most and not the generalist doctor I would be assigned to! My injury in 2009 tore 3 lumbar discs, damaged the facet joints at those levels, and also damaged the nerves going into my left leg. I had sharp, stabbing, knife-like back pains with any tiny movement literally thousands of times a day and night, and tried lots of things for it including epidural and facet joint spinal injections and medication (gabapentin) to soothe the nerves and radiofrequency ablation on the nerves. Nothing helped, I could not sit or stand or lie down and had to work and eat meals literally kneeling … so in desperation I finally asked my doctor to refer me for acupuncture. At the time my acupuncturist (who was also a physical medicine and rehabilitation MD) was able to find the worst spot in my lumbar spine with her needles and she performed deep periosteal stimulation, in which she inserted the acupuncture needles into the bones around the damaged lumbar levels and hooked them up to an electrical stimulation unit. I began to feel a tiny bit of improvement within 5 sessions and over time the sharp stabbing pains stopped! It has been miraculous. I still have sciatica that I have learned to work (and sleep!) around -- I can only sleep on my right side with my left leg up on a pillow to keep pressure off my damaged left hip (another story) -- but this also helps the sciatica.

    There is hope Coco man, for you are most certainly a strong person and a survivor! But I know the dark places our minds can go to when we feel there is no more hope for improvement. All I can say is to keep trying, and do your best to keep hope alive, and perhaps see if you can get a referral to a good acupuncturist in your area.

    I will be thinking of you and sending you love and strength … please do let us know how you get on.

    Flick
    xoxo

  • Sleepio Member

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    Thank you both for your replys. It is reassuring that there is hope. May be ill try the acupuncture to help the pain, my consultant has now booked me in for an op to remove the areas compressing the nurves to help the sciatica and hopfully the other problems, but has nothing for the pain in back itself, I'll surgest to him your idea. The physio didn't work nor excercise as it imflamed the pain. However if what Flick suggests work, it will be back to physio to gain strength. Again thank you Marie Elaine and Flick.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I've just completed session three to start my sleep restrictions….....I'm now laughing (well trying to) as my back went today and to top it, my evening wind down is a walk…..
    I wake up enough in the night for no good reason, let alone with pain due to a bad back…..wish me luck

  • Sleepio Member

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    As I have a titanium lower spine, and titanium discs in neck, I now have a trapped nerve by the lower back titanium. This cause the ZOO from waist down, twitching , bees, guitar strings, it's horrendous but I have chosen not to have a 10th surgery!!!!!! So, Doc said have a couple of shots of whisky as am allergic to all pain meds.!! Essential Oils are good. Mix together
    Black Pepper 4 drops, Hyssop 3 drops, , Eucalyptus 10 drops, , Peppermint 10 drops, Bay 2 drops, Clove 2 drops,and Cedarwood 3 drops.then add a base oil, 30 ml, to those drops and rub in before you go to bed. that's my own concoction having studied them.
    If you need a supplier I have one in Yorkshire.White Rose. Minimum order £75.00….but he's a great guy who runs it.
    francesca-milano@hotmail.com
    Alternate with hot and cold packs too. that's what I do….......Francesca

  • Sleepio Member

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    Poor you…...Know that feeling. The darkest hour is….......

  • Sleepio Member

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    Oh Cocoman…...such a crap life, but it's all how we deal with it. If anyone asks if your an actor, just say yes, we all act, people don't seem to want to know you when you're not well, so you put on a happy face and pretend you are, acting.!!!! All the best…........wrote down below about the oils I personally use, not saying you should, but its what I do…......take care

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