Plenty of people suffer through a sleepless night now and then, but when you have chronic pain in your neck or back, it can make sleeping quite a struggle on a regular basis. And make no mistake: the affects of being incapable of getting enough sleep can be disastrous to your health and waking hours in many ways.
How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Health
• Work Performance
When you don’t sleep well, you’re tired during the day – that’s obvious. But how does that tiredness affect your performance at work? Are you making little (or big!) mistakes that you normally wouldn’t make? Are you taking more breaks than you should and not getting enough work done? Are you not chasing new business as hard as you might? Investigations have suggested that the sleep deprivation of employees contributed to both the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. But even if you’re not steering an oil tanker or building a space shuttle, no matter what type of work you do, being tired during the day can cause your work performance to drop, which may endanger your position, your income, and, in some cases, your safety.
Relationships suffer when we are tired all the time. We may have a shorter temper with kids, co-workers, spouses, and parents. While everyone has moods, long-term sleep problems lead to chronic sleep deprivation, which, in turn, can damage our ability to maintain or develop functional relationships with others.
Whether it’s dozing off at the wheel or stepping off a street curb without carefully looking both ways first, being chronically sleep deprived can be downright dangerous. Even if you aren’t dozing off, your reaction time is slowed dramatically when you are tired. This can be a problem whether you are driving, biking, walking, or even trying to avoid a mishap at home.
• Health Problems
An amazing list of health problems can be linked to chronic inadequate sleep, from obesity to high blood pressure to diabetes to lowered immune system function. So, not getting enough sleep causes host of problems that, in themselves, can cause even more serious health problems. In fact, because of this, lack of adequate sleep can actually decrease your life expectancy.
So I think we’ve established that no matter why your sleep is being disrupted, it’s not a good thing. But don't worry: chiropractic can help.
Possible Causes of Neck and Back Pain that Cause Sleeplessness
- strained muscles
- damaged tendons and / or ligaments
- spinal stenosis
- impinged nerves
- and a host of other issues - your chiropractor can help identify the root of your pain and together you can decide on a course of action.
Ways to Treat Sleep Problems Due to Neck and Back Pain
You have a number of options when it comes to treating sleep problems due to neck and back pain, but they are not all equal. Read for yourself…
1. Take over the counter sleeping aids, pain medication, or a combination of the two.
Over the counter sleep aids (for instance, Unisom) generally use diphenhydramine HCl or doxylamine succinate to help you get to sleep. Over the counter pain medications contain ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium, which can ease your pain enough that you will fall asleep. And of course, you can get products which have both, like Tylenol PM or Unisom PM pain. The upside is that these products are generally not habit-forming. However, they generally don’t solve the problem: when you stop taking them, the pain and sleeplessness return. Furthermore, it isn’t recommended that you take them for more than a couple days and for some people, either the sleep aid or pain medication (or both) aren’t enough to give them the sleep they need.
2. Get a prescription for a pain medication, a sleep aid, or a combination of the two.
There is a range of different prescription medications available to help you sleep and ease your pain, or both. While they may do the trick, some of them can be habit forming or have negative side affects. Furthermore, like over-the-counter medications, they aren’t actually solving the underlying problem: when you stop taking the medication, the pain and sleeplessness may return. If you take these medications long-term, it can be hard on your kidneys and liver and other organs, which is only going to create more problems down the road.
3. Have surgery to correct whatever is causing your neck or back pain.
If medications don’t give you permanent relief, a physician may suggest that you explore surgery. In some cases, this may be your only choice. But who wants to have surgery when there might be another option? The risks of surgery – even simple surgeries that are minimally invasive – are a long list of scary things, from problems with anesthesia to post-surgery infection and a host of other problems. Anytime you are cutting through our protective layer – our skin – it puts our bodies in grave danger. So before you opt for surgery, make sure you’ve explored all the options.
4. Explore chiropractic care.
…And we highly encourage you to try chiropractic care while you are exploring options other than surgery. Chiropractic care is natural: we don’t prescribe medications that have side affects or are addictive. We don’t do surgery. We simply make subtle adjustments to the body that help it function at its peak performance and help it to heal itself. For some people, chiropractic care is the first and only stop on their list of options as they attempt to solve sleeplessness due to neck and back pain. Sometimes our patients come to us after they have started taking pain medication because they can’t wait any longer for relief but they know the pain medication isn’t a permanent fix. We help them get off pain medication when they are ready, as their body heals. We also help patients who have been through surgery and need to make sure they heal properly and are able to get their strength back.
No matter where you are in your journey to alleviate sleeplessness due to neck and back pain, we’d love to help you help your body to heal. Call our offices today at 773.904.9489 to schedule an assessment with one of our doctors.