How To Sleep With Cervical Radiculopathy

4 min read

Can you sleep on your stomach if you have radiculopathy? Is sitting down good for lumbar radiculopathy.

Lumbar radiculopathy, sometimes called sciatica, is aggravated by sitting for long periods, so you should get up, walk around, and take pain relief. Sleeping on your stomach is the least preferred option for treating radiculopathy. If you sleep on your stomach, it could worsen the symptom.

What is radiculopathy?


Pinched nerves along the spine. Radiculopathy is a condition where the nerves along the spine can become damaged or pinched when the nerve leaves the spinal column.

Radiculopathy is a condition that can affect anyone at almost any age. The condition can start with an injury to your spine, disc degeneration, or disc herniation. It’s very common and can be painful.

Are there different types of radiculopathy?

Yes. The condition can occur anywhere along the spine but is common in the following areas of the spine:

  • Cervical radiculopathy. The causes of cervical radiculopathy can be many such as neck compression that can occur with sports trauma. Whiplash injuries are a common cause of the onset of cervical radiculopathy. It can cause severe pain, and weakness in the neck and shoulders, causing sleepless nights. Symptoms can cause numbness to radiate down the arm into the hand
  • Lumbar radiculopathy. So many of you suffer at some point from this condition. It is prevalent in the lumbar region due to the mechanics of supporting the torso and the mechanism of picking up loads heavy and light. The condition can also be known as sciatica, where pain raiders down one of the legs causing extreme discomfort
  • Thoracic radiculopathy. When the condition occurs in the thoracic region, it can cause tingling sensations that extend to the front of the chest.

How do you sleep with cervical radiculopathy?

On your back. The best way to sleep with cervical radiculopathy is on your pack or in the supine position.

You will need to support the neck and head to keep the cervical spine aligned to bring relief to the nerve impinged upon.

If you find it difficult to sleep on your back for the entire night, then side sleeping is acceptable and may offer greater relief to some sufferers.

Sleeping in the prone position or on your stomach is not advised. Sleeping in the is position can exacerbate the condition.

Is cervical radiculopathy worse at night?

In most cases yes. Symptoms tend to become worse at night when you try to sleep. It can be difficult to find the correct position where you feel comfortable with adequate support.

At night our bodies are winding down, so hormones like cortisol are decreasing, which also impacts the amount of discomfort you feel.

If the pain is severe, you may have been given a cervical collar to wear during the daytime hours and remove at night. 

If you can’t sleep, you could replace the collar and try to sleep in an elevated position or sitting position to alleviate the pain.

How do you calm cervical radiculopathy?

Medication, ice, and heat therapy. There are a number of ways you can try and relieve the pain from radiculopathy, all of which have some benefits at certain times of the recovery process.

Options include:

  • Rest and activity modifications, such as time off from work,
  • Physiotherapy, a physiotherapist will give a range of exercises to strengthen the cervical muscles and should also introduce ice and heat therapy to calm any inflammation around the nerve endings and muscles
  • Chiropractor, a chiropractor will make small manipulations to relieve the pain
  • Traction, maybe one of the lesser options depending on the severity of the symptoms and injury. Your cervical spine would be placed under traction to separate the cervical discs in the hope that this brings relieve
  • Pain medication may include anti-inflammatories

Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?

If you find relief from pain. There is no real evidence to suggest that sleeping without a pillow will help but if you feel relieved sleeping in this position, then do it.

How should I sleep with lumbar radiculopathy?

Lie on your back. Laying flat on your back with your knees bent upwards towards the ceiling will help straighten your lower back.

When you are in this position, slide a pillow under the knees, if you are not getting relief, then add additional pillows until you are comfortable and pain-free.

Sleeping on your back through the night can be a challenge so if you need to sleep on your side, place the pillows between your knees to keep your lower lumbar spine aligned.

How do you lay down with a lumbar strain?

In one movement. Sit on the edge of the bed with both feet planted firmly on the floor. With one movement, pick up your feet and swing your legs upwards while your torse is moving toward the bed.

When laying on your side, place a pillow between your knees in an attempt to reduce pressure from your knees and align your spine.

How should I sleep with severe lower back pain?

On your back with knees supported. The sleeping position will be the same, you are trying to flatten your lumbar spine against the bed to try and relieve the pressure that is causing the pain.

However, if you are not feeling relief, try these positions:

  • Lie on your side with your legs bent and curled towards your stomach, or fetal position
  • Lie on your back in an inclined position, use orthopedic wedges under the mattress for the best support and pillows to make you feel secure
  • Lie on your side with a pillow between your knees, this will reduce knee pain and align your spine
  • Lie flat on your back with your knees pointing upwards with pillows for support

Should I put a pillow under my lower back?

Maybe a lumbar roll or a rolled towel for support. A pillow is likely to be too big and not provide the support needed for a specific area. If you have a lumbar roll, you can try or use a rolled-up towel and place it in the small of your back for pain relief.

Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or pinched, causing pain and other symptoms. Common symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include neck pain, shoulder blade pain, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, and weakness in the arms or hands.

How to relive cervical radiculopathy pain

Here are a few strategies that may help to relieve cervical radiculopathy pain:

  1. Use heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help to reduce pain and inflammation. You can try using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm compress, or a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel.
  2. Take over-the-counter pain medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  3. Practice good posture: Maintaining good posture can help to reduce pressure on the nerves in the neck and decrease pain.
  4. Try gentle stretches: Gentle stretches that target the neck and shoulder muscles can help to reduce muscle tension and improve flexibility.
  5. Use a neck pillow: A neck pillow that supports the natural curvature of the neck can help to reduce pressure on the nerves and decrease pain.
  6. Consider physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles in the neck and improve flexibility, which can help to reduce pain and other symptoms.

If you are experiencing persistent or severe cervical radiculopathy pain, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They may recommend additional treatment options, such as medications or injections, to help alleviate your pain.

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