The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Insomnia

The connection between chronic pain and insomnia is stronger than you may think. People with acute or chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems than those who do not have pain. Likewise, many people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders may suffer from chronic pain. The key to determining how to correct your sleep issue is figuring out which came first: insomnia or pain.

Losing sleep because of chronic pain is referred to as secondary insomnia, an inability to sleep due to disease or medication. According to the National Sleep Foundation, secondary insomnia affects about one in five Americans a few nights each week.

The effects of disrupted sleep patterns

When pain interferes with sleep patterns, it can adversely affect your mood, thoughts, activities, relationships, work, and overall enjoyment of life. Getting enough restorative sleep each night ensures your body has time to heal, repair, and regenerate. When you don’t get meaningful sleep regularly, your health suffers as a result.

This connection between chronic pain and insomnia is harmful; the pain can make restorative sleep impossible which, in turn, makes you more tired and therefore more sensitive to pain, a cycle that only gets worse if left unmanaged.

What can you do to stop this cycle?

  • Make sleep a priority
  • Stop or limit caffeine and alcohol intake (especially at night)
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or visualization
  • Place a rolled up towel or pillow between your legs (for side sleeping) or under your lower back (for back sleeping) to ease the strain on your back

When is it time to see a doctor or specialist?

A sleeping disorder combined with chronic pain should always be treated together. If your back or hips are preventing you from sleep, but you are too tired to be active, then it’s time to consult a doctor or specialist. Trust the spine specialists at the Spine Surgery of Idaho to help manage your pain and get you back to sleep, comfortably. Call (208) 944-0056 to schedule your appointment today.

How Weight Affects Back Pain

How Weight Affects Back Pain

Severe back pain is one of the many complications that can result from excess weight and obesity. People who carry around excess weight are often at a greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain, compared to those who aren’t overweight. According to the American Obesity Association, musculoskeletal pain, specifically in the back, is common among close to one third of obese Americans.

How being overweight contributes to back pain

Some of the most common weight-related issues include musculoskeletal and joint pain. With each pound adds strain, and many extra pounds can add up to significant strain to the muscles and ligaments in the back. To compensate for the added weight, the spine can tilt abnormally and place additional, uneven stress on the back. Over time, this can lead to the deterioration of proper back support and an abnormal spinal curvature. In addition, excess fat surrounding the waist forces the pelvis to push forward, straining the lower back and leading to more pain.

Conditions caused or aggravated by obesity

Excess weight can aggravate — or cause — certain painful conditions, including:

  • Sciatica (pain that radiates down the legs from the lower back)
  • Herniated discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Arthritis of the spine

In addition, the effectiveness of back surgery is complicated by excess weight. These patients are also at an increased risk for complications and infections following surgery.

Losing weight to reduce back pain

With low-impact exercise and a healthy diet, you can lose the weight that could be contributing to your back pain. Exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga are easy on your joints and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Also be sure to consume a nutrient-dense diet consisting of lean meats, fresh produce, and plenty of water.

If back pain is affecting your daily life, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment.

Surprising Reasons You’re in Pain

Surprising Reasons You’re in Pain

Are you suffering from back pain and aren’t really sure why? There’s actually a long list of potential reasons you’re in pain, and it may surprise you. Back pain can prevent you from doing the things you love, but you can also prevent it. Here are a few surprising possible reasons for your pain.


Many smokers don’t realize it, but smoking can have significant effects on your back. Studies have revealed that smokers have a decreased blood supply to the discs in the back. This leads  to premature aging of the discs, which can lead to pain in the lower back. Another study has shown that smoking can affect the brain’s response to back pain, making it feel worse.


Stress can cause the muscles in your back to constrict and cause the discs to bulge, which often leads to pain. This can lower your pain tolerance and stiffen your back. Try to manage your stress with deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.

Poor diet

Not only can a poor diet cause weight gain and place extra pressure on your back, but consuming high levels of processed sugars can make your pain worse. They can spike inflammation in the body and cause more pain.


Sitting for long periods of time can put extra pressure on the discs in your back, due to compromised blood supply to the discs. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, consider using a standing desk to alleviate some pressure on the back, or take breaks every hour to stretch and walk.

Your mattress

It may be that your mattress isn’t firm enough, or it’s simply too old and no longer supporting your back and body as it should. Be sure your mattress is in fairly good shape, and replace it every seven years.

Lack of exercise

Being too sedentary can lead to weight gain and back pain. Exercise can help build muscle tone to give your back the support it needs to keep your muscles and ligaments in place. Keeping your back tight and strong with exercise will help you avoid back pain.

If you’re suffering from back pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your first consultation.

Considering Back Surgery, Things to Ask When Selecting a Spinal Surgeon

Considering Back Surgery, Things to Ask When Selecting a Spinal Surgeon

Do you have a history of chronic back pain? Are you considering back surgery? If so, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that each year approximately 600,000 people in the United States will have back surgery.

Surgery of any type is a major consideration, and selecting the right physician to perform your spine surgery is critical to a successful outcome. General questions you should ask when seeking the right spinal surgeon include:

  1. What treatment options were suggested?
    Back surgery is not the only treatment option available. Were you given a comprehensive evaluation to identify the best plan of action that’s customized for your needs? Were other, noninvasive methods tried before surgery was suggested?
  2. Do you feel informed?
    Your spine surgeon is there to not only perform the surgery but also to explain the process, the risks and potential complications as well as the post-op care and recovery. Were you able to ask questions, and do you feel comfortable with the decision to have surgery?
  3. What type of surgeon should perform your back surgery?
    Neurosurgeons have extensive additional fellowship training in spine surgery beyond that of a general surgeon and perform surgeries that non-neurosurgical spine surgeons can’t perform. Also, spine cases make up 70% of the cases neurosurgeons see in training and practice, a far greater percentage than other types of surgical specialties.
  4. What is the main focus of the surgeon’s medical practice?
    A surgeon whose practice is focused on comprehensive spinal care and spine surgery will be more up-to-date with treatment options and surgical techniques than a physician who performs occasional spinal surgery. Ask how often the surgeon has performed the procedure and his or her success rate.
  5. What can you expect in terms of the healing process and clinical outcomes?
    While every patient is different, an experienced surgeon who performs a procedure on a regular basis can provide general guidelines as to the expected postoperative healing and progress at different milestones.

Dr. Marano has been providing comprehensive spinal care to the people of Eastern Idaho for more than 30 years. He brings a high level of expertise and experience to the care of each and every patient seen at Spine Surgery of Idaho. If you’ve been experiencing back pain and are considering surgery or would like a second opinion, we encourage you to make an appointment today… and to bring this list in along with your own questions. You can call 208-522-6930, or go online to schedule an appointment.