Back pain and lack of sleep.: Hi. Thank you for... - Pain Concern

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Back pain and lack of sleep.


Hi. Thank you for reading this. I am loosing the will after another night of 2 hrs of sleep and constant lower back pain. I am 39 and have had lower back pain with sciatica since 14. I've had good years and bad years. Ten years ago I had a major disc prolapse that almost resulted in permanent nerve damage. Since then its been better but has got worse again in recent years. For the last 12 months I am unable to sleep. I go through a cycle of getting 1-3 hrs a night for 3-5 days. Then catch up at weekend usually as body has to sleep and repeat the cycle. I dread going to bed as know it will be agony. I have changed my bed, seen my gp many times, had physio, seen an osteopath, lost weight, started exercising and eating well, been to a pain clinic. Last night I got 1.5hrs sleep. I have a very demanding job and have no idea how I cope with this level of sleep. Thanks for reading. I am just after advice on what I can do. I have had enough and fear I will not be able to work.

24 Replies


Excuse for asking Has there been any diagnosis regarding this complaint ??.


Degenerated bottom 3 discs. Excessive wear. Bulging disc irritating the nerves running down the back of my legs.

TeaInAPot in reply to Asylum

This is me too. Bulge between l4 and l5, degenerative disc disease above and below, excessive wear and tear, bilateral sciatica with the bulge. I find supportive pillows somewhat helpful for sleep, but not much that helps longer term.

Just wanted to say me too, you aren’t alone.

Anxiety about sleep makes it worse, as does catching up with naps. Many people with chronic pain have sleep problems and one of the features of Pain Management Programmes ( not the same as Pain Clinic) is sleep problem related, teaching relaxation and self-hypnosis.

Hi Asylum, my heart goes out to you I have and still are in the same position as you where sleep deprivation is concerned so I totally get how you feel. you say you have changed your bed, the only type of bed that will help you is an electric bed with your diagnoses it will be money well spent as your problems are not i`m afraid going away anytime soon, but what you can do is help yourself to get the rest that you need to cope, the fact that you have a stressful job doesn't help your situation, as coping with that level of pain you need a strong pain killer at times so you can sleep if only for a few hours. My best wishes to you.

oh my gosh..sounds like my problem /i to am 31 started with leg pain.then god my back..lots of physio..meds.pain clinic.tens name it tried it.09 spine care told me i had 3 level degaretive disc dease..sorry not best speller..had a back op feb 2011..worse leg pain now on morpine 40mg every 2/3 hour has well has sleeping meds...listen 2 year ago i really couldnt that run down.ened up in hosptail with phumiona..i blaimed it on no sleep..pain..ive haddiffrent beds etc..july last year the pain was worse then ever.felt like my tail bone had broke..after begging at doctors sent for a bottom disc had excruded and brust..and bits sitting on my s1 nurve...worse pain off my life so far...spine doctor was very nice.diffrent one then before..told me only thing can do ia op..and ive bad off..i can only sleep on my back..hips very other half has to pull me out of bed...helps hot watewr bottle .before thing which really helps is a elec blanket..really cant wait for bed..ive 3 kids..and dont even knew if should chance another op..but what....i still work.carer.has i appled for i.l.a..and no one seems to want to help those who need it....knew how your feeling.......................

You have my sympathies. I have major problems in getting enough sleep. I went to bed at 11pm last night and was back in the lounge at 4.30am. It is so draining. How on earth you are managing to keep up a stressful job as well is amazing. Well done to you.

I was prescribed amytripytline. They do work but it leaves me in a type of drugged mood all the next day so only take them when I am at my wits end. I have found that the problem is just worse when I try and stay in bed so get up as soon as I have had enough and then doze in the chair on and off all morning. Sorry I cannot give any further advice. Just know that you are not alone in this.

I am waiting for an appointment at the pain clinic and will post any info I get there regarding the problem

By the way I am saving to invest in an electric bed which you move into different positions with a remote. Can only be a good investment. Take care. Ann PS I am fifty eight.

I hope pain clinic helps for you..last time i went got told pain was from old pain..i knew it wasnt knew your body best..i look after 3 family members .granda 90.grandmother has dementsure.mother alcohol had to give work up last year..630am till 11 at night my last job..but.will say but spine care who i saw untill my last op told me to keep working so did..theres no way could full time now..pain from right side bottom and legs and pelvis has eased.. so dont knew if should have another op..hips and legs[diffrent to siatica]is still sore but can deal with...see others who have never had back/leg pain dont understand..i worry all meds ive had to have over years are doing me harm..but what to do..spine care told me in 08 i had a spine of a 60 year old//...feeling down..makes pain worse.has well has no sleep..i asked for a copy of my last mri case come across someone who can help....3 discs are black with 3/4 bulging cruve in my back///one at bottom isnt a lot of disc there dont understand....hope everyone gets help they need...good gps allways help

Hi Asylum, I see you are in a very familiar pattern. I would suggest body mapping and or Alexander Technique. I think it's called somatic awareness but don't quote me, it's something to do with increasing kinesthetic awareness (our real sixth sense) and knowing your own personal spinal structure, to the point where you would get yourself a medical model of a spine...add the damage that reflects your own situation and take it from there, the idea is to give you an indepth knowledge of what you are doing in your daily life that makes the pain worse so that you can make adjustments, usuallly postural and movement related. Have you tried any relaxation techniques...mindfulness, meditation, etc. There are loads out there you just need to find one that works for you. You mention you are doing a very stressfull job, do you really want to put yourself through that? Is there any other alternative? Your health and sanity is more important than a don't want to get to the situation where you have a complete breakdown as there is only so much a body can take. Sorry, don't mean to sound morbid but sometimes these things need to be thought about. You might like Tai Chi for health, that can be good for spinal reallignment and functioning but doesn't give quite the same structural knowledge as body mapping. Hope there is something useful for you here and don't forget we are always here if you need anything. Don't give up. Ttfn Heather

This needs a multi-pronged attack. You need to find out the local voluntary group who know the law concerning disability issues. They may be able to help re-arrange your working hours. A reduction in number hours worked with pay cut is better than no job at all. You want to avoid a stress related nervous breakdown at all costs. After a breakdown the ability to handle stress is much reduced.

A one off trip to an osteopath will not help. You will need maintenance trips to help the body fluid. I go to a McTimony chiropractor once every six weeks with emergency treatment every now and again. NICE does has chiropractic treatment as part of its recommended treatment for certain conditions. It is worth looking up the latest rules and presenting them to your GP. Be aware chiropractic and osteopathic treatment is only as good as the hand ability of the person treating you. You have to ask around to find a good practitioner.

You will need to look for an Alexander Teacher who can teach you not to do things with your muscles which will make your condition worse. This will take time. You have been miss using your muscles for a long time. You have to inhibit the old way of doing things and replace it with a new way of doing things. This approach which is very effective in the long term is difficult to do in the short term. "" is a good place to find out more.

You have to look at the cost of Alexander lessons against the cost of being out of work and on the sick with no ESA and no PIP.

Have a look at "" it may give you some ideas to explore. Another site "". I like some of the ideas but cannot afford the costs involved. However it does give the basis for further investigation and experimentation.

The human body works according to the rules of physics and engineering. To expect it function differently and not find out how it functions can lead to a lot of grief if you have a long term health disability.

Hope this helps

Hidden in reply to johnsmith

So well said. Than you johnsmith.


Hi angel

You have been given alot of ideas to think about and some of them i m going to look into, i have spinal damage after botched epidural when i had twins 22yrs ago and pelvis problems.

I see a chiropractor after trapping the nerve in my back causing sciatica, i'm so glad i went as i found that the reason my knees and hips clicked out was because I have hypermobility, i now see my chiropractor (mighty magician) every 3 weeks for maintenance.

It is the best thing i ever did! Do some research online to find one in your area.

Take care and angel blessings xx

p.s the more you stress about sleep.worse it is..been there..and stress makes pain worse....ive stress full life 2 austisc kids.gril 13 whos a grumpy thing..look after my gran who has dementsure.grandas 90..mam 55 alochoic...carer all my life..just put my other care work on hold has couldnt do everything...onest if its pain keeping you awack bath..invest in a electric blanket put on for 2 hour before bed...get in..and its heaven heat all up back and legs..i can only sleep on back..yeh still wake..but learened not to get up.ive had best nights sleep since hurt my lower back 7 year ago..yes guess it at work carer..wouldnt do anything elesxxxxxxx

i feel your pain..i wish i could be rubbed out and drew problem onest not very good docs were i helped few year ago..on waiting list been on for 6 months now..hns have to cut thats i knew why took so long to send for my mri this present time just took my mst morpine..half dizapam..elec blanket on.cant wait for bed..think i am starting to get bit down..i wish there was someone who would go over my scan with was sort of in out last oct ..with spine least just saw 1..before my last op saw6 diffrent spine care guys..and everyone told me something diffrent.....ive tried every med in the book..this fast act morpine on now only one that dont make me see things or hightmeres or ill....any one knew who can hip right makes clicking noise..its allso stated to hurt my middle back..and neck..i am scared that ive a bone problem.....thanks for web pages am going to look up now...not a lot in my area.......

Hi there,

I really feel for you! Living with pain is difficult enough and sleep deprivation makes it so much worse.

I've also suffered with lower back pain and have bulging discs in my lower lumbar region and have osteophites.

Before starting at the pain clinic I was living on around 2 - 4 hrs sleep each night. I should maybe point out here that I work unusual hours and finish at midnight 3 nights a week and on those nights, I usually go to bed between 2-3am. On non working nights I go to bed between midnight an 1am and I get up at 7am most days to take my daughter to school. One of the medications I was prescribed at the pain clinic was amitriptyline and it has turned my life around!!

I must just say at this point, it is not a miracle drug - many people have bad experiences with it, and I did too when I first started taking it and just when I got to the point where I was going to stop taking it, I found a way to make it work!!

I was told to take 1 10mg tablet before bed and to increase the dose by 10mgs each week until I got to the max dosage of 50mgs. I expected them to knock me out and was rather disappointed to not feel sleepy with them. I went to bed at my normal time, fell asleep at the normal time and got up at the normal time but when I got up, I felt absolutely awful!! I was really tired. lethargic and basically found even the simplest of tasks to be too demanding and I had a 4yr old that I needed to get ready and get to school on time. I knew I couldn't go on like this, but realised I wasn't feeling better until around 12-13 hrs after taking the tablets. I decided to try taking them between 6-7pm rather than before bed and guess what...?? I had the most wonderfully deep 8 hrs of sleep and felt only a little bit hazey when I first woke up, but felt fine after about 15-20 mins. I now have that amazing 8hrs of sleep almost every single night (as long as my daughter stays asleep lol!!) and the tingly, vibrating feelings in the tops of my thighs have stopped!!! I would HIGHLY recommend taking amitriptyline and would recommend taking it 12-13 hrs before you get up rather than what ever time is stated on your prescription instructions!!

Hope you find something that works for you and you manage to start sleeping again!!!

Hi, thank you all for your responses. It has been really useful reading them and will give things a try. I love my job and although it is stressful doesn't impact on my health in any more than most. It does mean any drugs that leave me dozy during the day are useless to me as I then can't function. Amitriptyline has had this affect on me. Interesting to read about timing for taking it though. I have been seeing an osteo for 10 weeks and now plan on making these regular maintenance trips. Will certainly look at the other suggestions. My best wishes to all those that are also suffering. Like a lot of people, we just get one with things and only take notice when things explode! Trying to change that to look after myself better. Also, recognise there are others in much worse situations. Thanks.

Joyful in reply to Asylum

Hi Love - I have lower spine permanent nerve pain signals from undiagnosed slipped discs (no one listened at the time till I was losing walking ability!)

I used to be on Amitriptyline - I totally agree with Mistee regarding the timing of taking it!

HOWEVER(!), I drive a lot - as I’m quite disabled now, it’s one of my only freedoms & independent ways of moving amitriptyline meant my time in my car per day was shortened greatly, as you can’t drive with them in your system.

I was told about Nortriptyline by a friend of a friend - it metabolises MUCH quicker - well by almost half the time. I think it’d be different for everyone as we all have varying metabolisms, also absorption may depend a little on food eaten, etc.

One issue, though, which you may encounter if you ask your doc for some Nortriptyline is... it is, I believe, quite a bit more expensive than amitriptyline - so the doc will be looking at his (& your?) budget. At the time I asked for mine, the doc was reticent to prescribe as I’m on quite a few, some expensive, meds.. but then he noted I’d stopped taking a few in the preceding months & so let me have them - had them a couple of years at least now & SO much better! Even when I can’t sleep now for other reasons, the nerve pain is subdued enough if I can eventually drop off.

Hope this helps!

God bless x

I meditate when I can't sleep. Even if I remain awake my body is relaxed and my brain has switched to a different wave. This is almost as good as sleeping.

Meditation will also help with the stresses of your job.

I do 3 types : body scan and focus on breathing, wandering around a favourite place and thinking of the pain as a colour, changing the colour to switch the pain off. This last one takes a while to learn, but can be done during the day as well for top ups.

I have a friend who has a different type of illness and she works in a highly stressful job. She divides her holiday allowance up equally throughout the year and goes to spas and well being centres all over europe for a week of pampering. Despite the travelling she comes back rejuvenated. This is enough just now to keep her problems at bay. She also negotiated the option of working from home and flexi time if she needs it. She also chooses to work over Christmas and Easter because there are generally less people about so she can get through her work more quickly. Of course, these solutions don't fit easily into all jobs but one or two may help.

In our last apartment we used to have a neighbor who usually woke up at 11 pm, made a lot of noise until 3 pm of the next day. I couldn't get more than 4 to 5 hrs of sleep because of the situation and starred to feel escalating pain in my lower back. We finally end up changing our house but it took almost 3 months for my sleep pattern to get back to normal and for my back pain to away. Since then, I get lower back pain every time I sleep less than 7 or 8 hours. That obviously increases my anxiety when I go to bed because I am afraid that for whatever reason I may not be able to sleep enough. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, I struggled at times to get back to sleep, I actually get so worried that my heart rate increases and make it difficult to get back to sleep. What I have learned after a kot of research and my own experience is that people who actually worth about not being able to still will end up not being sleeping where as people who don't worry about it usually get good sleep. So sleep is a paradox, if u guys so hard to get enough sleep u usually end up having difficulty going to sleep. Instead of trying to sleep, try to calm yourself down. I usually take 10 slow and deep breaths and then tell myself that I dont want to try to go sleep but I want to try to decrease my heart bit and relax. I don't like sleeping pills but I would suggest u to take sleeping pills for a few nights to help your body get out of its old habbit of not sleeping, then gradually replace the pill with natural herbal teas that helps with sleeping and at the same time relax yourself when u cant sleep by breathing deeply. Remember, no one can help u more than yourself. Be kind to yourself and continue your efforts even if you are not able to sleep some night. Know that this is a process that might take months so be patient. Best of luck! All of us have the power to save ourselves, but sometimes when we are tired acted a busy day it is hard to remember our inner power. Good luck!

Meditation. There are loads on you tube specifically for sleep. Even if you don't actually sleep, your brain is resting and your body relaxing which will make you feel better. Use over ear headphones so you become part of the music. Start with guided ones, they tell you how to breathe and relax your body. Then move onto just music. Then finally multibrain wave with a bit of care. I found different pains are felt on different waves and some waves actually made some pains worse. It's all trial and error as to which work for you, which sounds you like etc. Save the ones you like and listen to them on autoplay, or choose an 8 hour one.

it takes a while to learn to quieten your thoughts and focus on your breathing, but even if you don't think you've slept, your body and brain has had a much needed rest.

Can you chat to someone at work, and see if you can do things differently, later start, shorter day, work from home occasionally? A place to rest at lunchtime? Can they temporarily move you to a less demanding job? They have a duty to accomodate health issues.

I'm new to this forum and I have to admit I've had such a boost finding out that there are others with the same diagnoses and problems, that it's not me 'nitpicking' , that others are searching for help with pack pain and sleeping. I'm 65 and shocked that only two years ago my life was normal and I could do things like shop, sleep, even walk round the house with no pain. This one thread has helped enormously -Zanna, I will look into your meditation suggestions- but how anyone can work or hold down any kind of job is totally beyond me. I have to nap during the day-luckily I'm retired, but just starting on the path you have talked of about changing beds, etc.Good luck to those who have to work-sorry I have no suggestions, but you all have helped me. How I understood Louise when she said she would like to be rubbed out and redrawn!


Hi Asylum

I was wondering if you take medication for the pain. I too live on little or some days no sleep and often wonder how is it possible. Chronic pain can be incapacitating and you may be able to get a disability pension through your superannuation. Work and sitting all day at a computer, only intensifies the pain. As does stress and a job that is demanding. I am so sorry. I have lived with this for twelve years. Every day. It is horrible. I have only now stopped looking for an answer to What and Why can't it be fixed. I have had every possible scan, X-rays, drugs and even a nerve stimulator for a period. I have also done the pain management clinics. It still kills me but the drugs do help. I no longer work as the pain simple got to the stage where I was passing out when I stood up. I now receive a disability pension.

All the best.


I'm now editing my reply (below) to you, as I've noticed that your post is 5 years old. Have you had any relief? I hope so.

I know exactly what you're going through, and it's awful, I know. I am curious to know if you've had surgery and, if not, why not? Just wondering...

My first bout with sciatica (9-10 years long) was 100% relieved with surgery. Now, I'm dealing with it on the other side, but no insurance this time.

Hi, you sound like me same issues with discs and annuler tear and bulging disc causing me that dropped leg feeling which does feel totally odd. I used to be able to sleep all night through but now no way it takes me ages to fall asleep and even then I wake up every couple of hours usually to take pain relief medication. I know your pain and hope you find something that works i’m 46 fella who never thought i’d Be like that at my age esp with two young kids around which is very frustrating. My wife tends to coax me to do things esp when I do take a fair bit of my meds and am not really present if you know what I mean? Was told by a specialist that basically the surgeons won’t touch me until I lose control of my bowels, which is so reassuring ,not!so much for the NHS.

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