Chronic back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders that may affect one's ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. People with chronic back pain have a higher rate of disrupted sleep. Studies show that sleep disturbances increase pain sensitivity in some people.
Medications are now available to reduce pain, which will help an individual sleep better. These medications are often recommended as a part of pain management therapy to improve sleep in people with chronic pain.
Some medications used to help chronic back pain and restore an individual's ability to sleep are:
- Sedatives, which are often the first preference to have a restorative sleep without disturbances.
- Over-the-counter pain relieving medications, which are used for short-term, to alleviate pain to allow a good night's sleep. However, one should remember to consult with a health care professional before taking these medications.
- Anti-depressants and muscle relaxers are suggested when the pain is severe, to ensure a good night's sleep. The drugs often prescribed are doxepin, amitriptyline, diazepam and baclofen.
Medications should be taken only for the prescribed period of time, as some of them may cause dependence after constant use.
Lifestyle changes to help prevent chronic back pain include:
- Avoiding stress, as it is associated with sleep disturbances and chronic back pain.
- Not eating a heavy meal just before going to sleep.
- Avoiding the consumption of alcohol before sleep as it affects the quality of sleep.
- Doing relaxing exercises before going to sleep.
- Using a comfortable pillow and mattress to have undisturbed sleep.
- Being in a comfortable position while sleeping to avoid pain. Try not to sleep on your stomach to avoid bending your back and increasing the pain. The best position for sleeping is on the side. If one prefers to sleep on the back, keeping a pillow under the knees would give extra support.
- Have a good sleep routine to get a good night's sleep. Avoid watching TV or working just before going to sleep.
If chronic back pain is caused by any other underlying conditions, it may need medical attention. In most cases, back pain can be treated successfully so that one can have a good night's sleep.