Experts say that neck pain is one of the most commonly reported types of pain in the U.S As for what causes it, the biggest culprits can include everything from a herniated disc to a pinched nerve—but could your sleeping habits be making things worse? According to Harvard Medical School, tweaking your bedtime routine can sometimes be the best medicine.
If you're looking to improve neck pain, you may want to rethink the way you're sleeping. Here are a few insider tips.
Choose the right pillow
Give your neck the strongest support by opting for a rounded pillow. The idea is to choose a pillow that molds to the neck's natural shape, so a memory foam pillow or another ergonomic cervical pillow are often your best options. Either way, what you want is for your pillow to fill the empty space between your neck and the mattress.
Try sleeping on your back or side
Sleeping on your stomach can be particularly bad for neck pain because it places excess strain on the spine. Tummy sleepers also have to keep their heads turned to one side in order to breathe, leaving the neck twisted and throwing your alignment out of whack in the process. This is precisely why sleeping on your side or your back are the most neck-friendly positions.
Stretch away the pain
If neck pain is making it difficult to sleep comfortably, try some simple stretching exercises to ease the discomfort. Experts suggest taking a hot shower or bath beforehand to help loosen the muscles. Neck circles, neck releases and spinal twists can all help soothe an achy neck. You can alternate these stretches with slow range-of-motion exercises. A hot or cold compress and/or taking some ibuprofen can provide additional relief.
Know when to seek medical attention
Even minor injuries can wreak havoc on the spine, leaving neck pain in their wake. If switching up your sleeping habits isn't helping, professional treatment may be your best bet. The proper diagnosis is what drives a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan so that you can get back to living a pain-free life as soon as possible. Consultations are free, so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain—including a good night's sleep.
Contact Envista Medical Neck & Back today for a free consultation. We focus on the underlying cause of pain, and then treat it. Neck pain brought on by an injury or muscle strain, for example, may require a different treatment approach than a herniated disc. If your neck pain is accompanied by loss of strength in your arms or a sensation of numbness, it could be sign of something more serious.