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What the time of day tells us about pain

Published: 14 March 2021 - Pain Management, Workplace health

Pain patterns throughout the course of the day give us physios great insight into the actual pathology of your injury but also the contributing factors that have led to it.

Why does my body hurt in the morning?

If you are lucky, you get about eight hours of sleep each night.

That is a long time to spend with limited movement! Hours sleeping in relatively the same position means joint stiffness can take hold. You know the feeling; you get out of bed and you are hobbling around for the first few steps. This does seem to free up though after a hot shower and moving around for a bit.

Why do I feel pain more in the afternoon?

This usually indicates a postural component to your injury. Your body simply does not have the endurance to cope with the demands you place on it. This is probably most evident in office workers who slouch in front of a computer all day.

Suffering pain throughout the night

Night pain is probably the most frustrating. You jump in to bed after a long day and you either can't get into a comfortable position because of your injury or if you do, within five minutes, the painful area starts throbbing. And throughout the course of the night, each time you roll over, your pain wakes you up. This starts that whole process all over again.

And let's face it, life is pretty miserable when you don't have a good night's sleep.

Night pain is an interesting one and there are two reasons for this:

1. At night, our cortisone levels decrease. Cortisone is our body's natural anti-inflammatory. So if you have an injury, night pain is increased because you don't have the protective effects of cortisone.

2. The other reason is distraction theory. It's dark and quiet, you don't have anything to think about other than the throbbing pain of your injury.