Many of us wake up in the morning stiff and sore. After a few steps or a few minutes things start to cooperate and the stiffness subsides. This can occur in the neck, back, shoulders, knees, hips…basically in any joint. Perhaps the most common would be the lower back and weight bearing joints as these areas are very prone to arthritic degeneration (arthritis). As we’ve mentioned in the past, morning stiffness is very much linked to degenerative arthritis.
Morning Stiffness Causes
A number of months ago I was regularly waking up in the morning with a stiff lower back. I would feel fine after a few minutes of walking around. Given what I know about the lower back and lumbar degeneration, I attributed the stiffness to “getting old” (which I am). I then realized that this wasn’t necessarily the cause for my discomfort but rather some facet joint irritation from a poor sleeping position.
The facet joints are located on the back of our spine. To test the facet joints we extend our spines (bend backwards). This position really compresses them together. Repeatedly extending the spine or holding spinal extension for a long time can really aggravate facet joints in the lower back. A position like lying on the stomach would certainly do this and is what I was doing every night. Like many people, I fall asleep with good posture but then I wake up on my stomach. So why have I done this in the past and not woken up sore and stiff?
Over time a mattress starts to change its shape. This, coupled with a memory foam topper that we had placed on the bed was allowing my spine to really extend when sleeping on my stomach. The softness of the surface was allowing my facet joints to jam together in the night. Coupled with what I would expect to be some mild arthritic degeneration in my facet joins (which would be normal for my age) my spine would be stiff and sore upon waking. After removing the memory foam and rotating the mattress (and making a conscious effort to not sleep on my stomach) the morning pain and stiffness literally left overnight. The take home point is that morning stiffness doesn’t necessarily have to be related to “getting old”. Morning stiffness isn’t always entirely attributed to arthritis. Although this is very common, these symptoms may be related to your sleeping posture or your mattress.
In pain? Give our clinic a call, we can help! Our clinic treats joint and back stiffness for people living in Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Milton and the surrounding areas.