There’s no question that adequate sleep is crucial to long-term health. Chronic sleeplessness doubles the risk of mortality from any condition. It can cause an individual to gain weight, increase the likelihood of depression, dull one’s memory, and even lead to poor decision-making. Sleep is an essential part of life as it helps clear metabolic waste products, restores the immune system, and processes memories. Those who get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night are the ones most likely to enjoy overall well-being when all other risk factors like obesity and smoking are removed.
What Is the Link between Poor Sleep and Back Pain?
Back pain and poor sleep have a rather strong relationship. If someone is experiencing back pain or some other form of pain in the body, it can be expected that he or she will have much more difficulty falling asleep. In addition to that, a lack of sleep mitigates key restorative functions that can increase the likelihood of pain. One study from researchers at Keele University showed that non-refreshing sleep (sleep where you wake up still tired) was the biggest indicator of widespread pain. Participants in the study who reported poor sleeping tendencies had the greatest likelihood of pain development in the back and other parts of the body.
What Can Patients Do to Improve Their Sleep?
Because sleep is so crucial to reduce the risk of chronic conditions and widespread pain, everyone must pay special attention to how they approach sleep. First and foremost, this means establishing a good sleep environment. An optimal sleep setting will feature slightly cooler temperatures and little to no light or sound. Secondly, individuals should develop an appropriate sleep routine to signal to the body that it is time to go to bed. Finally, poor sleep behavior should be mended as quickly as possible. Bad sleep habits include watching television in bed, performing stressful activities late at night or eating right before bed.
If one does find that back pain is causing sleep deprivation, a visit to a spine specialist like James K Kaufman MD is necessary to rule out underlying conditions and determine the best course of treatment. A spine specialist can offer a number of treatment options, including medical intervention or lifestyle changes like improving one’s sleep. Whatever the cause for the back pain, a spine specialist will likely recommend optimizing sleep to reduce the likelihood of pain or aggravating an ongoing condition.
Are you living with chronic back pain? Approximately 100 million Americans have some form of chronic pain, which can make performing day-to-day tasks challenging and burdensome. Fortunately, advancements in modern science have led to the development of sophisticated treatment options to provide relief from chronic pain. If exercise, physical therapy, stress management and a healthy diet are not enough to alleviate your back pain, then consider these other treatment options. Talk to a spinal neurosurgeon like Dr. James K. Kaufman MD for more information about treatment for chronic back pain.
- Medication. There are several different types of medication used to treat back pain. Though primarily used to treat seizures, anticonvulsants are also effective for treating chronic pain. Another option is low doses of antidepressants; these drugs regulate the levels of chemicals in the brain, such as norepinephrine and serotonin, which is believed to help control pain. Pain relief creams and sprays might also be useful, as they can help minimize the sensation of pain and reduce inflammation. For severe cases of chronic back pain, narcotics may be prescribed.
- Nerve Block Therapy. Nerve block therapy involves injecting a local anesthetic into a specific nerve or group of nerves to ease pain. Nerve blocks aim to block a targeted pain signal and/or decrease inflammation.
- Electrotherapy. Electrotherapy, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), uses low-voltage electric stimulation to relieve pain. A small, battery-powered device is placed on the skin, and its electrodes are connected to the skin on the pain area to create electrical impulses that inhibit pain signals coming from the peripheral nerves. It’s believed that the electrical stimulation helps stimulate endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.
- Surgery. When all else fails, you may want to consider surgery. Today there are many minimally invasive surgical procedures geared toward treating spinal injuries and back pain. Minimally invasive surgery differs from open spine surgery in that it is performed through the skin or a small incision. There are typically fewer complications associated with minimally invasive procedures, such as spinal fusion and decompression, as well as a shorter hospital stay and recovery period.
Each case of chronic back pain is unique. To determine which treatment option will be most effective for treating your pain, schedule a consultation with a spinal neurosurgeon.