How to Sleep with Cervical Radiculopathy

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The only thing worse than losing out on a full night of sleep is losing out on several full nights of sleep. Unfortunately, pain-related medical conditions, such as cervical radiculopathy, can often cause this undesirable side effect. At Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, we'll do our best to keep you comfortable during these times. Dr. Christopher Williams is an expert in identifying and treating cervical radiculopathy, as well as countless other ailments, in order to enhance the lives of our patients in Atlanta, GA.

What is cervical radiculopathy?

Also known as a pinched nerve, cervical radiculopathy happens when the neck becomes inflamed or damaged at the point in which it branches away from the spinal cord. This results in an adjustment in neurological function that can lead to numbness and changes in reflexes in the neck, shoulder, arm, hands, or fingers. Symptoms usually appear intermittently initially before slowly becoming more and more frequent.

Patients of Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta in Atlanta, GA often report symptoms of:

  • A tingling sensation in their fingers or hand
  • Muscle weakness in the arm, shoulder, or hand
  • Loss of feeling in the arm, fingers, or hand

Causes of cervical radiculopathy

While cervical radiculopathy can be caused by injections, tumors, disc herniation, and injury, the most likely cause is spinal degeneration. This makes this condition much more likely to occur in older individuals rather than younger people due to the increase in spinal degeneration associated with the advancement of the aging process.

As we age, the disks in our spine age with us. This can often lead to the vertebrae moving closer together, which the body attempts to counteract with the creation of bone spurs. Unfortunately, this actually makes the spine even more stiff, which can lead to irritation or damage to the nearby nerve roots.

How to sleep with cervical radiculopathy

Pain in the neck can obviously greatly reduce one's ability to find a comfortable sleeping position. Worst of all, poor sleeping posture can actually aggravate these symptoms even further. Below, we've compiled a list of four sleeping positions, as well as some tips on how to feel comfortable and maintain proper positioning of the head and neck. Additionally, Dr. Williams recommends the use of a cervical pillow to reduce pain while sleeping.

Sleeping on your back: This is the optimal sleeping position as it is the easiest to properly brace your head and position your neck. It is important, however, to find a pillow that reinforces the curvature of your neck, while using a flatter pillow to pad your head for comfort.

Sleeping on your side: This position is not as preferred as laying on your back, but it is better than on your stomach. The main thing side sleepers should remember is to use a tall pillow to ensure their neck perfectly lines up with their head. This will keep the spine straight throughout the entire night.

Sleeping on your stomach: We usually do not recommend sleeping on your stomach, as it requires patients to twist their neck in order to rest their head on the pillow. Still, we realize that some people can simply only find comfort sleeping in their desired position. If you're a stomach sleeper unable to sleep on your side or back, consider using a thin pillow or no pillow at all in order to avoid contorting your neck into troublesome angles.

Sleeping upright: This has proven to be a useful position for those suffering from both back and neck pain, as evidenced by its use by a large number of pregnant women. Rather than a traditional pillow, people choosing to sleep upright should use a u-shaped pillow around their neck in conjunction with a small pillow for their lower back.

Get a great night's rest

Sleep is one of the most important factors in having a healthy, happy, and productive day. Hopefully, these tips will help you put your pain behind you when it's time for some well-deserved rest at the end of the day. If you continue to experience prolonged symptoms of cervical radiculopathy, contact Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams at his practice in Atlanta, GA.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.