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Why does my lower back hurt when I lie down?

Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Lay Down
4 minutes, 19 seconds

If you currently live with lower back pain, you may have noticed that certain positions or movements can cause immense discomfort. For example, if your lower back hurts when lying down, you may be experiencing symptoms of a specific injury or condition. 

When experiencing an increase in lower back pain while lying down, it can be difficult to fall asleep. You may not be getting the rest you need to heal. Recognizing your back symptoms earlier rather than later can help you get the treatment you need to regain your mobility, decrease your pain, and restore your healthy sleep pattern so that you can lie down with minimal lower back pain. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for your lower back pain, especially if it’s worse when lying down. 

Why does my lower back hurt when I lie down?

Thirty-nine percent of adults reported having back pain at least once during the year. Your lower back is made up of a large group of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and cartilage that stabilize your body and bear your weight while standing, walking, and other activities. Your strong lower back muscles — which help extend, flex and rotate your waist — work together with your lumbar spine, which protects your spinal cord. If you overstretch or compress this tissue during work or play, you can experience lower back pain, especially when lying down. 

Pinpointing your specific back pain symptoms, such as a tingling or burning sensation, can help you determine the type of tissue damage contributing to your lower back pain while lying down. Depending on your symptoms, you can trace your lower back pain to the following conditions or injuries:  

  1. Sciatica — The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, traveling from your lower back to your foot. This nerve can become compressed or pinched after an injury and can cause shooting and burning pain to travel from your back to your legs. This phenomenon is known as sciatica. You may feel that your sciatic pain worsens when lying down in certain positions for long periods of time. Physical therapy techniques like myofascial release can help ease pinching around the sciatic nerve.
  2. Strains, sprains and tears — You can overstretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons during activities, leading to trauma injuries. For example, you can strain your back muscles while lifting a heavy object without proper technique. You can also injure your lower back while repeating the same motions in awkward positions. You may feel like your strain, sprain or tear worsens when lying down. Through physical therapy, you can help limit your pain and encourage your injury to heal by performing strength and flexibility exercises.
  3. Osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis involves the gradual breakdown of cartilage around a joint. If you have spinal osteoarthritis, your soft spinal discs will gradually deteriorate, which may lead you to feel a dull ache in your lower back throughout the day. Various sleep positions can also apply extra pressure on your spine and lead to increased osteoarthritis pain. Techniques like aquatic therapy can help you manage chronic pain and increase the mobility of the spine.
  4. Spinal disc herniation — Your spinal discs can slip out of place as a result of an injury, impacting your nearby nerves and spinal cord. This phenomenon is called a disc herniation, which can lead to feelings of pain, numbness and weakness in your lower back. Lying down can aggravate the areas around your slipped disc. Physical therapists can use gentle soft tissue mobilization techniques to reduce inflammation, address pinched nerves and coax your disc back into place.

What can you do to stop your lower back from hurting when lying down?

If you consistently feel that your lower back hurts when lying down, it is a good idea to see a physical therapist or other medical professional. A physical therapist can assess your lower back symptoms to help you determine their root. Then, they will design a treatment plan specifically for you, adjusting exercises and stretches that support your lower back. Physical therapists may introduce you to: 

  • Strengthening exercises — If your lower back is weak after an injury, it can be helpful to strengthen the tissue surrounding it. Physical therapists can work on helping you strengthen your back muscles along your spine to support your lower back’s mobility and posture, even while lying down.
  • Stretching routines — Your back may hurt while lying down because your muscles are tight or there is a lack of blood flow to your tissue. Physical therapists can show you how to perform stretches before bed and in the morning to minimize how much your lower back hurts when lying down.
  • Hands-on therapy — Physical therapists can use instrument-assisted manual therapy to help break up scar tissue or tension-filled muscles. They can also pinpoint specific trigger points at the top of your skin via myofascial trigger points and release those places of tension via techniques like dry needling

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for lower back pain while lying down

Are you losing out on sleep because of back pain? Our team of expert physical therapists can help you target the reason. At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your lower back pain. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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