PT eDigest

StretchyladyMorning Stiffness Can Be a Pain

A common ailment, morning stiffness can stem from a number of conditions from the mundane to the exotic. In an otherwise healthy individual, morning stiffness can simply be the result of fluid accumulation in the spinal disks during the night. This can result in stiffness or pain in the back.

Preventing this condition can be as simple as changing your sleeping habits:

  • Sleep on your back or your side instead of on your stomach.
  • Choose a pillow that aligns your back more effectively. Feather and memory foam pillows can keep your neck and back lined up at night.
  • Increase the length and quality of your sleep. Not getting enough sleep increases the odds of morning stiffness. Consider getting a referral for a sleep study.

Even if you are getting enough sleep and taking care of your back and neck, you can still experience morning stiffness. Chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia can cause morning stiffness, as can a recent injury. See a specialist who can diagnose these conditions and, if you have them, treat them.

A variety of treatments can be effective for morning stiffness:

  • heat applied by a compress or hot shower
  • cold applied by an ice pack
  • soft tissue and joint mobilization
  • exercise
  • occupational or physical therapy
  • surgery (in the most extreme cases)

Fortunately, morning stiffness occurs only in the morning. Because there is no
one-size-fits-all treatment, we can help figure out which approach is optimal for your particular circumstances. Become informed, adopt discipline and take care of yourself. Waking up pain-free can make the ensuing day brighter.