Why Do I Get Intense Back Pain When I Get Up?

If you often experience intense or sudden back pain when getting up from lying down or sitting, you’re not alone. This type of back pain, sometimes called “mechanical back pain”, is very common and usually caused by simple movements or poor posture irritating structures in the back. Here are some of the main reasons why you may get this intense pain when getting up and what you can do about it.

Muscle Strain

One of the most common causes of back pain when getting up is straining the muscles, tendons or ligaments in your back. When you’ve been lying down or sitting for a prolonged period, your back muscles relax and lengthen. If you then abruptly straighten up, twist or reach for something as you stand, it can overload the structures and cause them to get overstretched. This leads to inflammation and spasms which make your back feel painfully tight.

To avoid this, take care to get up slowly and gently without jerky movements. Roll onto your side first before using your hands to push yourself up to stand. Equally, if you’ve been sitting, stand up gradually using your legs rather than forcefully twisting your back. Take time to straighten up bit by bit. Doing some gentle stretches before getting up can also help reduce strain.

Disc Issues

Problems with the rubbery discs between your spinal bones can also sometimes cause back pain when getting up. Due to gravity compressing your spine, discs absorb fluid while you’re lying down. When you then stand, the rapid change in pressure on the discs can cause some of the fluid to squeeze out. If a disc is damaged or degenerating, this action can irritate the nerves and cause discomfort.

Sleeping on a medium firm mattress and moving periodically when lying down allows your discs to maintain a healthier fluid balance. Regular lower back stretches and exercises to strengthen your core muscles will also take pressure off discs and make them less prone to injury. If you wake up with back pain after lying still all night, gently stretching before standing can help ease discs back into place.


Spinal osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear of the joints between vertebrae, is another common cause of morning back pain. The joints stiffen up when you’ve been still for a while. Then, when you go to stand, the movement can aggravate the arthritic joints and nearby nerves, causing a painful flare-up. This type of mechanical back pain is particularly common in older adults but can affect anyone.

Along with your doctor’s treatment recommendations, doing some gentle range of motion exercises for your back before getting up can help lubricate arthritic joints and prevent morning stiffness. Maintaining good posture and core strength will also take mechanical pressure off your spine throughout the day.

The key is moving mindfully and avoiding any abrupt, forceful movements getting in and out of bed or a chair. Transition slowly, stretch out any stiffness beforehand, and have patience with your body. If back pain when standing persists or worsens, see your doctor to check for underlying issues. With proper care, you can get up and start your day pain-free.