How to Sleep With Pinched Nerve in Neck, Back, and Shoulder?

How to Sleep With Pinched Nerve in Neck, Back, and Shoulder?

Chances are you’ve awoken to pain, numbness, or weakness. Whether you’ve slept in a bed, a couch, or even on the floor, a pinched nerve could be the culprit. Here’s everything you need to know about a pinched nerve from sleeping wrong.

The body has a system of nerves running through it. Some nerves are more susceptible to nerve compression (pinched nerve) than others, but it can happen nearly anywhere in the body. One of the most common ways to get a pinched nerve is by sleeping wrong. Here’s how to treat it and avoid it.

Pinched Nerve Symptoms

A pinched nerve occurs when the tissue surrounding the nerve presses on it. This can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness radiating from the affected area. It can make it hard to move the affected limb or body part, since doing so may cause pain. Weakness can also make doing even simple tasks difficult.

Do Pinched Nerves Heal on Their Own?

Pinched nerves often stop causing pain without medical attention, but that doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. Many people assume that, since the pain has gone, the pinched nerve has healed on its own. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. In fact, if you don’t change whatever caused the pinched nerve in the first place, you risk having the painful experience again and again. In this sense, pinched nerves don’t fully heal on their own, they just stop causing pain for a while.

Fully healing a pinched nerve usually takes small changes to your lifestyle and/or sleeping habits. Read on to discover how to prevent and get rid of pinched nerves that occur throughout the body.

How to Sleep With Pinched Nerves in Neck and Back?

The most common places to have a pinched nerve are the neck and the back. They are characterized by pain and numbness in the neck and down one or both arms or the back. It can make turning your neck difficult due to pain and muscle weakness. If the pinched nerve is in your back, it can make bending down, twisting, and sitting difficult. The good news is that you can prevent this by changing your sleeping habits and choosing the best sleep position. 

1) Do Not Sleep on Your Stomach.

The best way to prevent a pinched nerve in the neck or back from sleeping is to ensure your spine is in the best position possible. Stomach sleeping is the worst for your back because it puts pressure on your spine while you sleep, which is what usually causes a pinched nerve.

2) It Is Best to Sleep on Your Side.

Sleeping on your side or your back is the best bet if you want to get rid of a pinched nerve in the neck or back. However, if you absolutely have to sleep on your stomach, sleep with your head straight instead of turning it to the side. Here’s how:

  • Get a firm pillow or roll up a towel.
  • Place the towel or pillow under your forehead to keep a neutral spine without blocking your nose and mouth while sleeping on your stomach.
  • Consider placing a small towel or pillow under your low abdomen/pelvis as well, to maintain a neutral spine.

Sleeping on your side can also cause pinched nerves in the neck and back if not done correctly. Here’s how:

  • Ensure that your pillow isn’t too thick or too thin. Your spine should be in a straight line while sleeping on your side, as viewed from your back. Side sleepers generally need thicker pillows than back sleepers.
  • To make sure, ask a friend or relative to look at your back and neck as you lay down on your side. Changing pillows can ensure your neck is straight. If your hips are canted, you may consider getting a different mattress.
  • The best mattresses for side sleepers are usually medium firmness memory foam. This will allow your hips and shoulders to sink in while simultaneously providing support for the spine so it doesn’t come out of alignment when you’re sleeping.
  • Stretch before bed.

How to Sleep with a Pinched Nerve in the Arm or Shoulder?

The arm has three major nerves that travel down it to the hand. Any one of these nerves can become compressed. Although this is most common at the wrist or elbow, it’s possible to have a pinched nerve in the shoulder, as well. Typically this is from sleeping on the side with the arms bent, from sleeping on your arm, or keeping your arms bent while sleeping.

Pinched Nerve From Sleeping on Your Arm

The best way to avoid a pinched nerve in your arm is to sleep on your back with your arms straight out to the sides. When the arms are straight, the nerves are straight, too. This means that they’re less likely to be compressed. But for many of us, it’s hard not to toss and turn and bend our arms when we sleep. So here’s what you can do:

  • If you’re a side sleeper, roll over and sleep on the other side. If both your shoulders or arms are affected, try sleeping on your back.
  • If you wake up with wrist pain, chances are you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. You can purchase a wrist brace to keep your wrist straight while you sleep.
  • Stretch before bed.

Pinched Nerve in Hip From Sleeping Wrong

How to Sleep with a Pinched Nerve in the Hip?

Just as pinched nerves are possible in other parts of the body, they can happen in the hips, too. This may be due to compression by surrounding bones, tendons, or ligaments. This is often due to your sleeping position. When pressure is put on the hips, or you end up in an awkward position for several hours, it can cause a pinched nerve. Here’s what you can do about it.

Most of the time an improper mattress or a side-sleeping position is to blame for a pinched nerve in the hip.

  • Try sleeping on your back to allow the hip to recover and heal.
  • If you are a side sleeper, try putting a pillow between your legs to keep your hips aligned with your spine.
  • Sleep on the unaffected hip.
  • Stretch before bed.

Best Treatments for Pinched Nerve From Sleeping Wrong

Keep in mind that a pinched nerve could become exacerbated at night. This could mean that the cause of the pinched nerve isn’t actually the way you sleep, but it simply gets worse at night. Things you do during the day, like working out with a pinched nerve, could be the cause of the problem. It could also be caused by improper posture and repetitive motions you perform. If the tips in this article don’t work for you, or aren’t working fast enough, consider seeing a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are specialists in the musculoskeletal system. They deal with pinched nerves all throughout the body. And seeing a chiropractor for pinched nerves will be able to determine what is causing the nerve and how best to treat it if it’s not your sleeping position.

Since chiropractors take a whole-body approach, they are uniquely suited to get to the root of the problem. They’ve also been shown to be safe and effective in treating pinched nerves throughout the body.

Resources:
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4460
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161475403001544

Dr. Brent Wells - Anchorage Chiropractor
About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.

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