Sleeping Positions for Spinal Arthritis

What is Spinal Arthritis

Spinal arthritis, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, is a deterioration of the facet joints that connect the vertebrae and make motion in the spine possible. These structures are surrounded by cartilage that allows them to move smoothly against one another. Neck or back pain can develop if the protection wears away, making the facet joints stiff and inflamed. 

Arthritis of the Spine Symptoms

Arthritis of the spine symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some symptoms may be as mild as occasional aches and stiffness, or as severe as deformities of the spine that can lead to chronic pain. Understanding spinal arthritis symptoms is a great first step to finding relief from arthritic pain. 

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Limited range of motion
  • Radiating pain
  • Diminished flexibility
  • Stiffness
  • Bone spurs

Four Sleeping Positions for Spinal Arthritis

It is not impossible to get a good night’s sleep with spinal arthritis, but it can be difficult. Pain associated with this condition can manifest anywhere along the spine. Therefore, finding the best sleeping position will depend on where your discomfort is coming from. As a general rule, a good sleeping position can keep your spine in proper alignment, from head to pelvis. For this reason, sleeping on your spine is not advised. Not only does it twist the cervical spine, but it also over-elevates the head if it is resting on a plush pillow.

Do you frequently wake up with neck or back pain from spinal arthritis? If so, simply changing your sleeping position can be an easy solution. Better sleeping positions include:

  1. On your back: Most experts agree that sleeping on your back is the best way to put your spine in neutral alignment. A small pillow under your head and a larger one in your knees will help to keep your spine straight. You can also position a folded towel under the small of your back for added support. 
  2. On your side with legs straight: This position is a good alternative to sleeping on your back, especially if you’re prone to sleep apnea. In order to keep the spine, hips, and pelvis aligned, tuck a pillow between your legs. Ensure that your head pillow is small enough to prevent your head from angling above your shoulder. 
  3. On your side with bent legs: This position can be particularly beneficial for those with osteoarthritis because it opens up the facet joints and relieves corresponding pressure. Just don’t curl too tightly into a fetal position, as it can strain muscles and ligaments. Again, keep a pillow between your knees and make sure you switch sides from time to time to prevent musculoskeletal imbalances.
  4. In a reclined position: Elevating your upper back by sleeping in a recliner or adjustable bed can create an angle between your thighs and trunk while keeping the rest of your spine in alignment. This can reduce pressure on both your neck and your back.

If you are undergoing spinal arthritis treatment, consider your sleeping position as well. This is a great way to ensure your spine is in a healthy position while you sleep. 

BEST Health System

BEST Health System prioritizes patient education. We believe that an educated patient is essential for a successful recovery. If you are interested in learning more about the services offered for spinal arthritis BEST, contact us today