Scientists have discovered our spinal discs have a 24-hour clock that, when malfunctioning, can trigger aches.
A team of researchers from Manchester University said a good sleep at night will help protect the clock and alleviate age-related issues.
Ageing and inflammation are major causes of disc degeneration. The study showed both can also cause the body clock — circadian rhythm — to malfunction.
Dr Qing-Jun Meng said: “Our research shows this system is regulated by our internal body clock. When it ceases to work properly lower back pain is more likely to become an issue. Looking after your body clock will help manage or delay the onset of your back pain.”
Dr Natalie Carter said: “Many people find that their symptoms get worse at certain times of the day and the results of this study reveal a likely biological basis to this effect.”
Tests on genetically-engineered mice and human disc samples also found taking medication at the right time of day is vital in relieving the pain.
The study also suggests night workers are more prone to back complaints.
The researchers suggest people should avoid working at night or to work fixed hours rather than a rotating shift pattern to combat the issue.