A common complaint our patients have is their pain is keeping them up at night. This is a really frustrating problem for out patients not only because they are experiencing pain, but the inability to sleep makes their pain feel even worse the next day. Sleep plays a crucial role in the healing process both physically and mentally. Let’s talk a little about why we experience pain at night, and what we can do about it.
Typically, when an injury occurs in the spine along the sacroiliac joint or facet joints (see video), a low grade swelling or fluid collection occurs. This swelling can expand the joint capsule and ligaments surrounding the joint creating that pain we may experience. During the day, movement of the joint pushes the fluid out of the joint diminishing some of the pain. As we sleep, swelling collects in the joints because we aren’t moving and expelling that fluid, which leads to increased pain.
A position we recommend our patients try is a posture called “the Roadkill”. While it has an unfortunate name, we find it can sometimes take pressure off the irritated joints to allow for some sufficient, uninterrupted sleep. In the video above, you can see Dr. Evenhouse show the position. He starts laying on his belly, bringing one of his knees up along the side of his body (typically the side that is painful), bringing the elbow of the same side towards the knee, and pulling the opposite arm through to lay on. This position raises the injured joint to allow some fluid to drain, and taking pressure off the joint to prevent provoking pain.
This position typically is helpful for a common injury to the joint capsule or ligament, but other injuries and disease processes can also create night pain. If you don’t find relief from this position, or movement in general, it is worth seeking an appointment to get a proper diagnosis. We hope this information can help you rest a little easier, and, of course, feel free to give our office a call with a consultation if your low back pain persists. Below is a link to our online scheduler!