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Avatar universal

Upper-mid Back Pain Only After Sleeping

For about 6 weeks I have been experiencing mid back pain when I wake up in the morning.  The pain is so bad, I cannot go back to sleep, and NO position change helps.  I must get out of bed and start walking around or sit in a chair for the pain to start going away.  After an hour or two, the pain basically disappears.  The pain seems to be emanating from my spine, and tensing up the back muscles nearest the spine.  

I have been seeing a chiropractor/massage therapist for about 4 weeks now, and it has not helped, because the pain is only after I sleep!

I am 23 years old. I help my dad deliver produce 2 times a week in the morning, and I am also a full time sales associate at Sears selling electronics (which I'm on my feet all day.)  That may cause a little lower back pain, but it goes away when I'm not working.

I have used a contour pillow, slept in all different kinds of positions (back and both sides), I always sleep with a full body pillow, and nothing has seemed to help.

I would appreciate any suggestions, thanks!
518 Responses
Avatar universal
I have had the exact same problem for approximately 4 years.  I kept mentioning it to my doctors and they kind of blew me off. They only told me it sounded like a disc problem but didn't say anything more.  So I ignored the problem. In the last year I started to also develope pain in my neck,shoulders as well as low back. I have had MRI's done of the Cervical spine(neck region) and Lumbar spine (lower back)  I have a lg hernated disc in my neck and degenetive disc disease with an annular tear in my lower back.  I am going to also request my doctors to do an MRI of Thoracic spine (middle back) because they haven't done an MRI of that section yet. I am not sure if the mid back problems is caused by these issues I know I have.  I would suggest you dig into the problem more.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your response!  Have you tried the whole "changing your matress" deal?  If that doesn't work for me, or this doesn't get any better in the next month, I'll go see an orthopedic doctor.
96108 tn?1197694930
Yes I did try that and taking medications like Advil or Aleve.  Nothing ever really helped it.
Avatar universal
As read your post, i felt like i was the one who wrote it. (i googled to see what is going on with my back and found this post)Since Monday, i awake to pain in my mid-back, stays within a 5 inch diameter with the spine being the center. It doenst matter where or how i lay down from that point on, the pain is constant until i stand up. once im up, no problems, infact, i don't feel it at all the entire day or even when i fall asleep. When i go to sleep, i hope that i can pass out before the pain starts again. Additionally, i have been lifting for about 2 years and never had any back problems until this past Monday. Nothing physically traumatic or anything that would give me a reason for why i have this weird pain. It is only when i wake up and only since this past Monday.
Avatar universal
I've the exact same symptoms, 3.5 years running.  Mine, too, started while doing frequent lifting while working at a retail location, often with 12 hour shifts, standing on unpadded concrete.  I've since had 100% desk jobs with no improvement.  

Pain isn't really all that big of a deal since it rarely lasts past 30 minutes after I wake up.  I'm just sick of the insomnia.  I've been to a variety of "care providers." with absolutely no results.

- Sever pain, enough to wake you up, usually about 3-4 hours after falling asleep.
- Laying down is all that's needed, not necessarily sleep, and starts after lying on a flat surface for about an hour.
- Found that after waking from sleep, I can move to some recliners/large chairs and fall back asleep as the sitting position allows the pain to subside.  I don't find sleeping in a chair comfortable enough to start the night in the chair.
- In terms of treatment, I've seen two orthopedic surgeons, two chiropractors, PT clinic, exercise physiologists.  I get a lot of assumptions that I'm talking about a lower back problem/sciatica which is complete wrong.  I did have sciatica which a little bit of PT cleared up.
- I've been on NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen), muscle relaxers, antibiotics, neurontin, percocet, vicodin.  Only the NSAIDs in large amounts (800mg every six hours) helped a little bit for about a week, but now even they do nothing.  
- Heat, cold, TENS device (short and long treatments), chiropractic manipulation, even acupuncture (I'm desperate) treatments have done nothing.
- X-ray, MRI, CT scans, and Bone Spec all show that I'm normal.  
- Next up, I'm waiting to hear back from a sleep study that I had a few weeks ago.  Also will seek out a message therapist for myofascial release which I've been told might give me one good night.  I might seek out sleeping medication to try and just sleep through the pain.

Hopefully someone out there can put a name to this so I can start teh path to treatment...  I'm so tired.

Avatar universal
I cannot believe that someone, anyone, has the exact problem I do and has been through all the same doctors, therapists, and tests to no avail. This happened to me rather suddenly for no apparent reason (no trauma at the most I lifted a heavy bag incorrectly), 4 yrs. ago and I have had only a few good nights since. I go to bed pain free and always wake with a severe pain in my thoracic spine which radiates around my ribcage to my sternum now. The only relief I can get is to either sit up or stand dependending on the level of pain, take pain meds and try to fall back to sleep (always sitting up as there is no possibility of laying down once the pain starts). I am hoping you have something new to offer and are feeling better. I am under the care of the Pain Mgmt. clinic but they admit to being stumped. So am I.
Avatar universal
It's weird that while I'd never wish this dilemma on anyone else, ever, there is some gratification in knowing others are dealing with the same thing.  I'm thinking about printing out this thread and taking it into my doc and seeing what he says.  Maybe you should take it your people.

'Til then, I'll stick to my routine of moving to my recliner every night after a few hours of pain.

Avatar universal
I feel the exact same way and intend to do the same. I see a Dr. at the Pain Mgmt. clinic that I have been going to for over a year. I know that if he had ever heard of these symptoms before (he or the 2 Orthopedic Surgeons of the 2 PT's,2 Physical Medicine Dr.'s etc.)he would have said so. I have had numerous nerve blocks,and muscle injections,with some relief from the nerve pain but no interruption of the basic pain from thoracic to ribs and then to sternum (if I don't sit up in time). I have begun trying to go to sleep sitting up to avoid the onset but it is almost impossible and my tailbone is suffering. As far as someone mentioned, taking sleeping pills to sleep through the pain, my experience is that you will pay the price for not sitting up when you need to.You may be the only one who understands what I mean. If anything helps I will let you know.
Avatar universal
Amazing that I can find people whe are experiencing the SAME EXACT pain as me.  I, too, can not sleep through the night.  All started back in September, back pain would wake me up, and at that point, I was unable to lie down.  I would get up, walk around, then prop up pillows and sit up in bed, hoping to fall back asleep.

As the months have gone by, the pain has progressively gotten worse.  4 to 5 hours after lying down, I am so stiff and uncomfortable, that I rarely fall back asleep.  I have had MRIs of low back, mid back and CT scans of pelvis and abdomen and also back xrays and a full body bone scan.  All were "unremarkable". I am amazingly stiff right in the morning, sometimes it eases up as soon as I shower, other times, like this morning, it's taking alot longer.  

Now, I have had lots of blood tests, CReactive Protein was high >10 and my latest was an ANA panel - I am awaiting the results of this.  My internist thinks it could be rheumotoligical, so after these blood results come back, I guess I will know.  

I feel for you.  I know how awful it is to just want to sleep.  I now have in my arsenal, Ambien, Soma (muscle relaxant) and hydrocodone.  I also tried Trimadol, but that didn't do much for me. I try various stretching exercises, some feel good, some don't.  

Good luck to you - do you think you could have something like arthritis??  Maybe, if you haven't done so, you could get some bloodwork done.  
Avatar universal
So sorry to hear that you too, have this problem. Can you please tell me how it came on (gradually or slowly) and if it is in your mid thoracic area and where it radiates to?
That is a good question regarding the Rheumatology issue. I can't be sure, as this began 4 yrs. ago, but I know I had lots of blood tests. I will follow up on this with my M.D., thanks. When mine began, and it was sudden, there was fear that it was a metastisis from a malignant melanoma that I had. When I asked the first Ortho. Surgeon if he had ever heard of my symptoms he simply said "yes and that is why I am ordering an emergency MRI". Fortunately, other than a small benign Ostoid Osteoma, it was clear. Obviously if it had been a metastisis, I wouldn't be here as it would have been fatal. In light of all that I am able to keep strong, but wonder, how long a person can go without a full nights sleep. I know you understand.
Does the Ambien help for you and what is the hydrocodone?
I am very interested to hear the results of your blood tests. I sincerely hope you get an answer.
Avatar universal
Hi - I have been waking most nights/early mornings with back pain right accross both shoulder blades. It gets worse when i take a deep breath and I have sharp pains. I soon as I get up it goes, almost within 30 mins.
I used to think it was my kidneys and the pain was going after I had been to the bathroom, now I am not sure if the pain is going just because I am up and moving. I do not get the pain at all during the day.I have no other symptoms ( I dont think) I have had blood tests, urine tests and X rays all of which are OK.
I would love to hear it anyone has any ideas what this could be as my Doctor has openly admitted he is stumped.
Avatar universal
Hey hurts,
Mine came on very gradually and the pain has changed (in other words, it covers a broader area now), but has stayed very consistent.  Now it radiates to my ribs sometimes my chest feels stiff in the morning too.  Got my ANA panel back - my doctor said it showed some positive/some negative factors (she thinks it may be an auto-immune issue) and has referred me to a rheumatologist - I go on March 15th.  I live in a town that has only 2 rhuematologists (!), so I have to wait all the way till next month.  

The ambien definitely helps me fall asleep, but still have problems 4 - 5 hours into my sleep waking up from discomfort.  Am really hopeful to get an answer in March.  Hydrocodone is a pain reliever.  I think I'm becoming immune to all of it though, which kind of scares me.  

So, the wait continues. I'll keep you posted.  Take care.
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