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Severe Backache

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  • Severe Backache

    Hopefully, I get get some insight to help me.

    I have been using a CPAP machine (Nasal) for little over 1 week. Over the past several days I have begun having severe backache when I wakep up after 5 or 6 hours on the CPAP machine and my sleep time is reducing as the backaches are coming sooner. I went to bed at 9:30PM, I woke up at 12:00AM and am still awake form the pain now. Saturday night/ Sunday morning I was able to lay down on my couch and sleep for a few minutes, than had to lay on the den floor for an hour or so as I was still tired.

    I am a business traveler and this is my first night in a hotel after having been home for the holidays. I had hoped it was my bed and pillows, but since I am in a different bed. It has to be the way I am sleeping due to the machine and the way I have to lay due to the hose.

    Does anyone have any idea or suggestions for reducing the backaches?
    I do like the fact that the machine has helped me in not falling asleep in front of the computer while waiting for data to refresh. which I could do easily before the machine. It has given me more energy as I don't need an afternoon snooze like I did before.


  • #2
    Hi Ron, welcome to the forums. That's a strange side-effect you describe! Never heard it like that before.

    Two things come to mind.

    1. Do you sense yourself tensing up on CPAP? Perhaps because it's all quite new? Or do you feel you are subconsciously lying differently, perhaps to accommodate the mask and/or hose? This, I'd imagine, could cause some pain after a few hours.

    2. Last week I read how improper breathing can lead to back pain. If the fine balance between oxygen and CO2 is upset, your muscles can start to contract due to some kind of chemical reaction. This could pull some bones out of their preferred shape/position and lead to back pain. Perhaps you are in a period where the body has to adapt to this new air balance. Or perhaps you were breathing 'wrong' pre-CPAP and now the muscles are relaxing it is uncomfortable at first. Perhaps some stretching can speed up this process.

    Those are just two pretty wild guesses. It would be interesting to see if the symptoms go away after a week or so when the body settles down. In the meanwhile some painkillers may be worth trying. Natural ones are based on enzymes called serrapeptase, they might be better in terms of not relaxing the throat muscles, making OSA worse.
    Cheers, Joe


    • #3
      Hi Ron Welcome
      Just another idea, pre-cpap what position did you sleep in? I used to sleep on my front, either side, back, in fact I could wake up entangled in the bed cloths. How that I am forced to sleep more on my back then before, I often wake with lower back pain. Turning on to either side with the mask over hanging the pillow does relieve the pain for a short while. I've put it down to bad posture on a mattress thats either too soft or too hard or needs turning.

      The fact that you sleep in different beds does not help! It may be worth seeing an osteopath to see if they can suggest exercise and treatment, this has helped Mrs Puffin in the past.
      Regards and Good Luck, Barry
      Start Weight 167.3 kg 09/05/08 Op. Date 08/06/08 163.9 kg NOW 118.4 kg Lost 48.9 kg or 7 Stone 10lbs 58% of Est. Total Loss, BMI was 50 now 35.3


      • #4
        took me ages to get used to be being able to turn over with the tube - so i ended up sleeping in one position all night - could it be that (ie hours in one position with no movement is probably going to hurt).

        I pretty much had to practice turning over - so i learnt that you can do it. I still end up with hip ache from time to time (side sleeper).


        • #5
          I am primarily a side to side sleeper as well as a mouth breather with severe sinus problems from living in South Carolina. I did wind up sleeping on my back sometimes or would wake up that way.

          I finally fell asleep around 3:30 without the machine, but woke up at 4:30 and then at 5:15 so I got up for the day.
          My next step is to make some calls back to the medical supply company I got the machine from as well as the doctor from the sleep study.

          I know I am having to learn a new way of breathing through my nose more, so I may try a different mask from the nasal one.



          • #6
            We have discussed sinus irrigation like Jala Neti and nasal sprays elsewhere here on the forum. A search should yield some tips. A humidifier is pretty much a necessity for consistent mouth breathers because only the nose can condition the air you breathe in (warm and moisten it).

            Whether or not it will help with the back, I don't know, but everyone agrees a humidifier makes the whole deal more comfortable.

            PS How are sinus problems related to South Carolina?
            Cheers, Joe


            • #7
              As a fellow side sleeper - i'd recommend the pillow review by me on this site - helps comfort quite a bit - and that helps you to turn over a bit more.

              Also - memory foam mattress toppers are good - if you get one - go with 2 inches or more.

              I have both - and i sleep pretty well - i do get occasional aches - but that's probably cause i sleep to well now...


              • #8
                I thought I had submitted a reply the other night, but I must not have saved it correctly.

                I was a side sleeper and breathed through my mouth.

                I had called the doctor who prescribed the CPAP and he guesses that my sleeping soundly and not moving was causing the backaches. He suggested I get a tennisball and stuff it in a sock then safety pin the sock to the back of a sleep shirt. This way I would not stay on my back for long.
                I am traveling and don't wear T-shirts. So I tried using a pillow against my back. I slept a little longer, but still had a backache ( I slept leaning on the pillow).
                I will try some hose rearranging tonight.
                South Carolina has very high humidity almost year round and high mold and mildew which causes alot of respiratory problems. The machine I have has a humidifier built in and I am presently adjusting it to find the sweet spot. I wake up with my sinus's clogged every morning.

                I do feel better and have more energy, I just need to get rid of this back problem.

                Last edited by RonSena; 16th January 2008, 03:04.


                • #9
                  What the doc said sounds plausible. If that's try, a good mattress (or topper) as Chelseauk suggests might make a major improvement.

                  A quality mattress such as those memory foam ones, or latex, distribute your weight evenly and keep your spine aligned properly.
                  Cheers, Joe


                  • #10
                    One more night in this hotel and then I get to try it at home again.
                    I had gotten into rearranging the pillows to provide more sideways support at this hotel I had been staying at all week.
                    Their beds are very comfortable except the pillows are fluff. I had asked for some firmer ones but they never showed up.
                    I go home for 3 nights then come back to New Jersey for the week at a different hotel that I have been staying at for the past several months. Their beds are great, but again the Pillows are going to be a pain. The do have a couple of big pillows that are hard on the bed. I may use one of them if I get back in my jr. suite.

                    I have adapted to waking up once, go to the bathroom and able to get back in bed and go back to sleep with the nasal pillow in. but when i get up at 5am, I have a sore back, but not as bad as it was during my first post. Maybe it is just a adapting time for me.
                    We will see tomorrow at home.


                    • #11
                      I used to sleep on my front, and when I started on CPAP I was told to sleep on my side and if posible never on my back.

                      I developed really bad pains in my shoulder, that drove me crazy. Spoke to my doctor, but they have no idea about issues with CPAP. Finally went looking around the forums and discovered that this is a problem with many people. Your subconsiously llay in be in the most comfortable position and change several times a night. NOw you are "forced" to lay in the a new position.

                      I went and brought a new bed...sounds a bit eccesive, but having told the bed sales guy what my issue was he was really helpful, suggesting I try various beds that should help.

                      Now I still have aches and pains occationally...who doesnt, but it does not wake me up ....... any more than the mask falling off, the tube getting tangled round my neck, the rain out or what sounds like a gas turbine stanging next to my head!



                      • #12
                        I've already mentioned this in passing. But i'll spend a bit more time on it.

                        A memory foam topper is really really worth considering - they really do help aches and pains - i know as i got one for some really nasty hip pains - and got my mum one who has a really bad spine.

                        Would i recommend one - oh yes.

                        The cheapest option is ebay - get 2-3 inches - Don't get a really cheap one - I paid about 100 for a king and about 75 for double (2 inch).

                        Oh and expect it to muck you pillow height up ! as you will sink into the foam a bit (quite a nice experience).

                        I found they work really nicely taken out of any cover but with something like this on top of them.

                        For the travellers (by car) amongst us you could try

               who supply for caravans - which will make them a bit narrow - but i'd guess a single sized one on a hotel bed would really help (they are a bit pricey).


                        • #13
                          Hi Folks,

                          After I got home last Friday I went to get a new pillow to try. I got one of those memory foam pillows and it folded down into nothing. I gave it to my wife to try and she loves it. It did nothing for me.
                          Over the weekend I was up at 3 or 4 in the morning with back pains. I would get up for an hour or so ands wind up laying on my side on our couch in the den.
                          I returned to New Jersey late Monday, and Tuesday morning woke up around 4AM but with little or no pain. I said these beds are great at this hotel. I used 3 pillows and seem to create a horseshoe around me. I have been waking up at least once a night, go to the bathroom, and go back to sleep using the machine. But now I seem to be getting into the habit of waking up for good at 4AM. So when I get back tomorrow, it is back to the store for pillows.

                          Our mattress at home is maybe 2 years old, and was not cheap when we bought it. Considering the amount of time I travel and not sleeping on it. It is in very good shape. SO it has to be the pillows. But I will check out the mattress toppers. Jeez the bed at home is so high now, I almost have to jump up on it to get under the covers and I am 6ft tall. Adding a topper is going to make it higher to jump.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RonSena View Post

                            Our mattress at home is maybe 2 years old, and was not cheap when we bought it. Considering the amount of time I travel and not sleeping on it. It is in very good shape. SO it has to be the pillows.

                            So was ours - but the point of the memory foam is to provide as close as possible to 0% pressure points.


                            • #15


                              What a great site and forum this is. What did we do before the internet??.

                              I am a very new user, 1 week, of a nasal mask and humidifier (pressure set at 10) and have experienced the following.

                              I can fall asleep easily with the 'kit' on.

                              I need a lot less sleep now (on the oximeter my event score was pretty high at 60) so I guess I am getting better quality sleep so need less of it.


                              It is 02.30am in the morning and each night i am suffering terribly with backache!!.

                              I asked my consultant last week if it was anything to do with changing the depth of your breathing but she looked at me a bit daft, accepting i may have back spasms (which they are) but putting it down to a different sleeping position.
                              I still think there may be merit in the change of breating 'depth' and the way it affects your back muscles.

                              Also note

                              My mattress is of a good quality and is less than 2 years old.

                              I am off to my place in spain in a couple of days so I thought i would wait and see how my back fares on the bed there.

                              If I still have the problem I understand the things to try are;

                              Mattress topper (min 2" depth)

                              Memory foam pillows (I am a side sleeper and find I go to sleep with my hand on the pillow with my head resting on it to take the pressure off the mask).

                              I will post how I get on.

                              This forum has really enlightened me on another couple of issues.

                              I thought my gas was due to medication but It has now become clear it is the CPAP even though my wind lasts all day and into the evening. I noted the posting re the stomach valves and I am on medication for 'rising acid' so I guess it doesnt help the gas issue.

                              I have a sore point on my face next to my nose, irritated by the mask so have to use a plaster. I will review my 'strap pressure' and see if I can slacken it off.

                              Finally, my day time drowsiness symtoms pre CPAP are a lot less this time round (I had OSA in 2002 but lost a couple of stone and my drowsiness went). I have put this down to the medication I am on so I dont know if anyone else has experienced this;

                              I am on venlafaxine for depression and Metformin for type 2 diabetes both of which I suspect have an 'affect' on your bodies hormones and I suspect act as a bit of an 'enhancer' (you know what i mean) to the bodies chemical balance.

                              Just thought I would mention it.