SLEEP POSITION AND ITS EFFECTS ON 3 COMMON MUSCULOSKELETAL DIAGNOSES
It is common for muscle aches and pains to frequently surface at night. As sleep comprises one-third of our lives, this correlation should deserve significant attention. When you sleep is typically also when you heal. Why not give tissue the best chance to recover during sleep?
Sleep posture may impede blood flow, directly compress soft tissues, or stretch injured structures, all of which can affect the inflammatory process. Unfortunately, some sleep positions negatively affect the healing process, resulting in delayed healing, poor sleep, and prolonged musculoskeletal symptoms.
1. SHOULDER PAIN AKA “ROTATOR CUFF SYNDROME”
Issue: Many of us sleep with the arm in the overhead position, and this is a lifelong habit. Over time, this may be considered a pathological sleep position and contribute to shoulder pain.
Solution: Avoid side sleeping with the affected side down. Consider sleeping on your stomach and putting a pillow underneath your stomach, or with the affected side up, placing a pillow between your legs.
2. NECK PAIN
Issue: Improper sleep positions may also create or perpetuate neck dysfunction. Neck pain is commonly associated with shoulder pain from the side-lying sleeping posture. Similarly, pillow height can force compression or stretch to the cervical structures, resulting in pain. Thin pillows aggravate conditions by allowing excessive side bending of the cervical spine while, statically bending the neck forward from thicker pillows can negatively affect disc lesions.
Solution: Choose a pillow that allows the neck to remain in a neutral position. Avoid excessively thick or thin pillows. Generally, feather or fiberfill pillows allow greater conformity than rigid foam.
3 ELBOW PAIN
Issue: Sleep position is also a possible aggravating factor that delays the healing of an acute injury and may result in chronic elbow pain. In particular, sleeping with the affected elbow beneath a pillow results in sustained compression to the elbow.
Solution: Keeping the arm at the side results in a reduction of elbow pain.