FAQ043: I herniated a disc in my low back, why is the pain worse in the morning?


If you’ve ever had a herniated disc, you understand that the pain seems to be worse in the morning.

I’ve been there. I’ve been you. Having trouble getting out of bed. Feeling in agony in the morning and slightly more hopeful at night. I had a herniated disc a couple of years ago and I can completely sympathize with the pain. I always found it fascinating how the pain was just so much worse in the morning.

It comes down to how the disc is structured.

The disc is the tissue between the bones (or vertebrae) in your spine. The disc is made up of a lot of water. Check out our FAQ on disc herniations if you haven’t yet to see what they are. When you have a herniated disc, the disc is essentially displaced behind the bones or to the side. So the pressure of the disc on some of the structures it is pinching (like the sciatic nerve).

Gravity …friend or foe?

Our disc is at its thickest in the morning. This is because at night, gravity isn’t working on us as much as when we are standing. This allows more water to come back into the disc and make it thicker.

Thicker = more pain 

As I went throughout my day, water would escape slowly out of my disc. This is a normal process and it happens to all of us. It is why we are slightly shorter at night than in the morning. As the water started to escape, my pain would ease slightly. I would start getting more hopeful that the pain would recede.

Over time of course it did. There was the ebbs and flows throughout the day though that I had to be conscientious of.

I hope you enjoy the video and find it to be helpful.

If you have anymore questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below or reach out to us. We would love to answer your questions!

Christina Prevett

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