Mid back pain, but only when sleeping Mid back pain, but only when sleeping

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Thread: Mid back pain, but only when sleeping

  1. #1
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    Default Mid back pain, but only when sleeping

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    This is my first post on the forum. I apologize if the same subject has been addressed before, but after searching I couldn't find anything that addresses this rather specific and strange experience I'm having.

    I'm 5'11", 103-104kg, 35 years old. When I started the program I was 34 years old, 92kg. I'm an American living in South Korea, and have consulted one of 2 South Korean SS coaches, Kim Kyoungha, for form checks and a couple of lessons. I don't actually train with him at his gym because it's too far away for me to go regularly. Instead I am training alone at a powerlifting gym near me that has well-calibrated, good equipment.

    To start I should be clear that in a sense I am Not Doing The Program because I have not successfully incorporated the Power Clean into my program. Kim Kyoungha taught me the Power Clean but I have had trouble with wrist flexibility and recovering from an elbow injury that has kept me shying away from it. Kim Kyoungha told me that, whether I do the Power Clean or not, once I got my Deadlift up to 125 kg I should not be doing it every workout. Instead he said I should alternate it with Chinups and Back Extensions (if not the Power Clean).

    So last week I did Chinups and Back Extensions instead of the Deadlift. During my 72-hour recovery period, I noticed that I had a sharp mid back pain when I woke up in the morning, which I have never experienced before. (I have experienced lumbar strains before, which is one reason I started training, but this is not lumbar, it is some kind of thoracic strain.) In fact the pain is what woke me up. It was accompanied by some abdominal muscle spasms. These spasms seem to be only on the left abs, not on the right, though the back pain is on both sides. The pain increases with thoracic extension. However, after getting up and going about my day the pain slowly subsided and I was able to train, though I was worried I had strained my back. On my training day I skipped the Deadlift because of this worry. I also thought perhaps my recent incorporation of Chinups and Back Extensions could have caused a mid back strain.

    The pain has returned each time I sleep, for the past 4 days. During this time I have not trained so I've missed 2 more training days. I regret missing training days but I'm also hoping the rest is helping me recover from this "injury," if it is one.

    I should add that I sleep on a mat on the floor, and have been typically sleeping on the floor since 2007 when I was 23 years old. I can sleep okay on a bed as long as it's firm, but the softer it is the more "tight" and uncomfortable my lumbar is. But I've never experienced MIDDLE back pain, and never a pain that ONLY comes when I sleep. After getting up and going about my day the pain subsides until I hardly notice it at all. But after 5 or 6 hours of sleeping it comes back. I am able to sleep again after taking Tylenol.

    I should also add that I have not been wearing a belt in my training. I suspect this could be a factor.

    I can understand if this is just a minor strain, which may have been caused by newbie form problems with my chinups or back extensions. But can someone advise me on why the pain only comes during sleep? Everything else seems to be fine.

    Thanks for reading my long-ish post.

  2. #2
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    How does this feel after a few days of rest?

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    Since making the original post the pain has lessened; I still feel it when I wake up, and itís uncomfortable enough that if I wanted to snooze I wouldnít be able to. For a couple of days the pain seemed to move more the right side, for whatever reason, though generally it was still in the middle. There are no more ab spasms accompanying it. I am able to sleep longer than before. Itís still noticeable upon waking up, continues until I get up, and quickly subsides, however if I try to do a thoracic extension to stretch (e.g. lying over my foam roller, or lying back while sitting in a chair to stretch while at work) the pain is noticeable. So the 2 problems itís giving me are difficulty stretching, and losing some shuteye (but not as much as before).

    Also since my post I have done 1 more training day, on 07/28. It was a good sessionóI hit PRs on both Bench and Deadliftóso the pain I described doesnít seem to be affecting my ability to progress, and the training also doesnít seem to have an effect on the pain because it hasnít gotten any worse, it has gotten a little better because as I said I could sleep longer.

    So itís been 12 days since the pain started and it seems to have lessened but not gone away.

    In that time I slept on a bed 1 time, for about 5 hours. I noticed I didnít feel pain after that. Could be because I didnít sleep all that long or deeply, so that the pain didnít have time to start... Could also be that sleeping on the floor is no longer good for me and sleeping on a bed is better...but then why this sudden development? Iíve been floor-sleeping for 13 years and never had this problem before
    so itís strange.

    Thank you for your reply.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blurmpf View Post
    Since making the original post the pain has lessened; I still feel it when I wake up, and it’s uncomfortable enough that if I wanted to snooze I wouldn’t be able to. For a couple of days the pain seemed to move more the right side, for whatever reason, though generally it was still in the middle. There are no more ab spasms accompanying it. I am able to sleep longer than before. It’s still noticeable upon waking up, continues until I get up, and quickly subsides, however if I try to do a thoracic extension to stretch (e.g. lying over my foam roller, or lying back while sitting in a chair to stretch while at work) the pain is noticeable. So the 2 problems it’s giving me are difficulty stretching, and losing some shuteye (but not as much as before).Weird, non-specific back pain that primarily affects someone at night is a troubling sign, except when that pain improves. Improvement in this type of pain is a very good sign. There are certain conditions that can cause progressive, intractable night back pain that you certainly do not wish to have, but it does not appear this is the case.

    Also since my post I have done 1 more training day, on 07/28. It was a good session—I hit PRs on both Bench and Deadlift—so the pain I described doesn’t seem to be affecting my ability to progress, and the training also doesn’t seem to have an effect on the pain because it hasn’t gotten any worse, it has gotten a little better because as I said I could sleep longer.Continuing to train is a worthy consideration.

    So it’s been 12 days since the pain started and it seems to have lessened but not gone away.In the grand scheme of life, 12 days of pain with pain that is already improving is a far better situation than about 40% of adults in the world. About 1/3 to 40% of adults have chronic, persistent pain somewhere in the body. You are already on the road to recovery, so you might consider yourself lucky....or, maybe more correctly, be glad that you train because your prognosis with painful conditions is markedly better than someone who does not regularly train.

    In that time I slept on a bed 1 time, for about 5 hours. I noticed I didn’t feel pain after that. Could be because I didn’t sleep all that long or deeply, so that the pain didn’t have time to startFour hours is one complete sleep cycle (give or take). 5 hours of sleep is actually about the average time asleep for adults in this country. Sad, but true these days.... Could also be that sleeping on the floor is no longer good for me and sleeping on a bed is better...but then why this sudden development? I’ve been floor-sleeping for 13 years and never had this problem before
    so it’s strange.There is likely no precise reasoning for the situation. It's always quite humbling when we have to tell a patient "I don't know" what caused it. I could certainly try to make something up, but I'd be pulling from my fourth point of contact. The important thing, though, is that it is getting better. In most non-insidious conditions, course of the issue is far more important than the causative factor.

    Thank you for your reply.
    Comments in bold above.

  5. #5
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    As of today, the pain is still there when I wake up. It has been better some mornings than others. One day, it was hardly perceptible until I tried stretching. Today, I had to use Tylenol again to sleep another 30 minutes or so. Itís not behaving like something that.

    Could you tell me what those conditions are that cause progressive intractable back pain at night, and why I donít seem to have them?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blurmpf View Post

    Could you tell me what those conditions are that cause progressive intractable back pain at night, and why I donít seem to have them?
    Cancer: either primary tumor of the spine or distant metastatic disease in the spine or surrounding tissue.

    Osteomyelitis of the vertebrae: bone infection causing destruction of the bony tissue

    There are others, but, I may just be playing statistics as both of these (and the other pathological causes of intractable back pain) affect a small number of people relative to the number of people complaining of back pain. It is also difficult for me to suspect you have a potentially terminal cause of your back pain when you are posting on an internet board for relatively minor pain that is not accompanied by sinister constitutional symptoms. If you are concerned you may be dealing with an insidious disease process, I can only recommend you seek medical care immediately.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Morris View Post
    Cancer: either primary tumor of the spine or distant metastatic disease in the spine or surrounding tissue.

    Osteomyelitis of the vertebrae: bone infection causing destruction of the bony tissue

    There are others, but, I may just be playing statistics as both of these (and the other pathological causes of intractable back pain) affect a small number of people relative to the number of people complaining of back pain. It is also difficult for me to suspect you have a potentially terminal cause of your back pain when you are posting on an internet board for relatively minor pain that is not accompanied by sinister constitutional symptoms. If you are concerned you may be dealing with an insidious disease process, I can only recommend you seek medical care immediately.

    BTDT...this thread resonates with me. Almost 20 years ago out of the blue, with no apparent cause of injury, I woke up with a mild mid-back pain that quickly subsided in the morning. Over a number of days / weeks the severity of the pain increased upon waking and would last longer and longer into the day and I would wake me in the middle of night in extreme pain. I went through all kinds of tests, multiple MRIs, bone scan for cancer, blood work, etc. One doctor assumed it was neuropathy of the back (I have T1 diabetes).

    Turns out MRI was a miss because ordering doctor only ordered scans of my lumbar and cervical spine. Another doctor much later ordered a full body MRI that identified two herniated thoracic discs that had extruded portions putting pressure on my spine. I couldn't sleep soundly laying down, but had no problems when I accidentally fell asleep on the couch a couple of times...that was the tip off.

    I went through the pain mgmt clinic at the local hospital. It was truly horrible. I was prescribed muscle relaxers, nerve medicines, oxycodone, had multiple spinal injections of steroids.

    Good luck. I hope its nothing. My pain progressed pretty quickly.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blurmpf View Post

    I should add that I sleep on a mat on the floor, and have been typically sleeping on the floor since 2007 when I was 23 years old. I can sleep okay on a bed as long as it's firm, but the softer it is the more "tight" and uncomfortable my lumbar is. But I've never experienced MIDDLE back pain, and never a pain that ONLY comes when I sleep. After getting up and going about my day the pain subsides until I hardly notice it at all. But after 5 or 6 hours of sleeping it comes back. I am able to sleep again after taking Tylenol.
    Are you a side sleeper? Have you thought of getting a 3" latex topper for the floor and sleeping on that?

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    Did you get this figured out? My brother had a very similar complaint for a couple of years. He was a touring musician, slept on buses and other crummy surfaces. He was blaming lifting too heavy and no doctor could help other than to say, "stop doing that". He never got a real answer, but he claims that yoga and stretching have helped a lot. I'm not recommending that - I'd rather someone else got a real answer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archon3D View Post
    Did you get this figured out? My brother had a very similar complaint for a couple of years. He was a touring musician, slept on buses and other crummy surfaces. He was blaming lifting too heavy and no doctor could help other than to say, "stop doing that". He never got a real answer, but he claims that yoga and stretching have helped a lot. I'm not recommending that - I'd rather someone else got a real answer
    The only thing I have figured out is that I am certain it is caused by chinups, and hanging from the chinup bar. In the time since my OP I have gathered evidence to this effect, because I stopped doing chinups and eventually the pain went away. Yesterday on a hunch I decided to do a dead hang for about 30 seconds to help stretch my shoulders in preparation for the squat (I am always looking for good ways to prepare my shoulders for the squat because the squat murders my shoulders), and VOILA! I woke up with the same pain this morning.

    So, for whatever reason, the chinup bar is "causing" my mid back pain. How annoying.

    I did go to a doctor, who specializes in the spine, though I didn't order an MRI. Going by the X-ray he could find nothing wrong, and prescribed a week of analgesics and mild muscle relaxers. Also got some physical therapy for about an hour. The meds did help, somewhat. I went back after another week and they gave me 2 more weeks of the meds. After that the pain went away (because I wasn't trying chinups anymore!) and I haven't gone back to the doctor.

    I suppose I could shell out for the MRI and see if that tells me anything. But all I know is that if I don't mess around on the chinup bar the pain doesn't come. [shrug emoji]

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