As if chronic pain weren’t enough to handle, a staggering two-thirds of sufferers are also plagued by sleep disorders. This double whammy can leave you mentally and physically exhausted, leaving you less able to fight back against your chronic pain.
At Vulcan Pain Management, we understand the frustration that comes with coping with chronic pain and the devastating effect it can have on your sleep. If, like many of our patients in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, it seems as if your pain tends to worsen at night, you’re not alone. And there are ways we can help put an end to the vicious cycle of pain and sleep deprivation.
If you’re struggling with worsening pain at night, here’s what you should know and how we can help.
The common culprits
While we can’t discuss the science behind nighttime pain for every disease or condition, we thought we’d start by discussing the most common causes of chronic pain and their impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. It’s important to note that nighttime pain and sleep problems are so closely related that it’s hard to pull them apart to determine which came first. What we do know is that there are ways to tackle both.
Let’s start with arthritis, which is a disease that causes pain and inflammation in your joints. By the very nature of the disease, it can be hard to get comfortable at night, as you grapple with joints that begin to stiffen once you’re lying in bed and not moving around. This is especially true if you’ve had an overly active day. As your body scans itself before falling asleep, it may detect the unusual stresses in your joints and signal chemicals that cause inflammation.
Another cause of nighttime pain is diabetic neuropathy. One study showed that people with neuropathy experienced their highest levels of pain at 8pm and 11pm and their lowest levels at 11am. While the differences in pain levels weren’t considerable, there were still differences that may account for increased pain at night.
Fibromyalgia is another common source of chronic pain, including flaring nighttime pain. The reason for this remains somewhat of a mystery, but researchers believe that since fibromyalgia stems from a problem in your brain’s pain messaging center, this malfunction may prevent you from entering true sleep and getting a reprieve from the pain. This lack of sleep can make you more vulnerable to nighttime pain and make your pain seem worse as you lie awake unable to sleep.
There are many other reasons why your pain may flare at night, not the least of which is that as you settle into bed, you don’t have nearly the level of distraction that you have during the day, which leaves you alone with your pain.
Better pain management = better sleep
Since we’re dealing with a cycle of pain and lack of sleep that seems to have no beginning or end, our goal is to disrupt the pattern through more effective pain management. If you’re experiencing more pain at night, we work with you to better schedule your pain medications so that you can get the sleep you need. We also ensure that you’re getting the right medications for your pain, as well as medications that may promote better sleep.
We may also work with you on relaxation techniques and breathing techniques that will help relieve the pain and encourage sleep. As well, ice and heat therapies can be especially effective around bedtime, as well as some gentle stretching exercises.
If you’d like to learn more about managing worsening pain at bedtime, please feel free to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.