What can cause neck pain and sleep problems?
Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness. Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In many cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. Sometimes, neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash.
Carol Kennedy, BScPT, MClSc(manip), FCAMPT, Physiotherapist, discusses neck pain & headaches.
The Symptoms of a Tension Headache
The vast majority of people who have headaches have tension headaches, where most people think tension means tension as in stress emotionally.
And although that can have an effect on how you feel, when a physician uses the term tension headache, what we mean is tension in the muscles in and around the head. So it’s actually a muscular condition.
Oftentimes those types of headaches will respond well to things like medication including anti-inflammatories and pain killers. But what we find is that there are a lot of patients who have those headaches as a result of tension in the neck. So that tension in the muscles and the joints of the neck leads to tension in the muscles in and around the head.
That type of headache typically is described like a squeezing or like a vice grip that goes all around the head. It’s not usually associated with phenomena like nausea or vomiting or changes in vision. With those types of symptoms we have to be more concerned about other kinds of headache. And that certainly requires the assessment of a physician.
If you have other questions about tension headache or you think you may have tension headache, there are lots of health professionals that can be helpful in reducing the stress that is in the muscles and in the joints of the neck.
Video shot in conjunction with http://www.aesmphysiotherapytoronto.ca/
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Neck Pain & Sleep Problems
For those who suffer from chronic neck pain or episodic neck pain, obtaining a good night’s sleep is often a real challenge for them.
The combination of sleeping positions, the type of neck problem that they have, as well as the pillow itself all contribute to the discomfort they might feel during the night.
Stomach sleeping is out. So that you can breathe, there’s no way you can lie on your stomach without having excessive rotation of the neck. If you do have a tendency to roll over onto your stomach during the night, you can put a pillow lengthwise in front of your body to try and prevent that tendency.
Both side sleeping and back sleeping are viable options, and the main thing is that the head and neck are supported in a neutral position when you’re lying.
So there isn’t, there hasn’t been very much research done on type of pillows that are the most appropriate, and there are many out there on the market that are available. There’s the contour pillow with the bump that fits in the space, there’s latex rubber pillows, there’s the new memory foam pillows that are available. And really it’s personal preference as to which is the most comfortable.
But the most important is that you fill in that space either in side lying or lying on your back to support the head in a neutral position. So really, what is most important is to determine whether or not the head is, head and neck is being supported properly in neutral.
So in a side lying position, you need to fill in this space with the pillow. It has to be the right height to be able to fill in that space. But then you have to determine whether the head’s tipped or, or forward or back in that side lying position. And a physiotherapist could have a look at you with your pillow and determine whether or not that pillow supports them in neutral.
So in back lying, you should have a staggered pillow arrangement with one pillow lower under the shoulder blades and the other supporting into the neck. But again, you don’t want that to be too high, you don’t want it to be dropping back too far because the neck wouldn’t be in its optimal resting position. So you may want to have that checked.
So the key message is that there’s, there may be a little bit of trial and error to determine the best combination of type of pillow, sleeping position, and neck posture position, and you may need a little bit of help with that to determine what will give you the best night’s sleep.
So if you find you have any further questions about what sleeping position, posture might be best for you, you should consult your local physiotherapist, and they can help you out with that.
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