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Best Sleeping Postures for Arthritis

Best Sleeping Postures for Arthritis - El Paso Chiropractor


As an individual who suffers from arthritis, you may know all too well how sleeping in certain positions can aggravate your symptoms, making you feel worse upon awakening. While proper sleeping postures are essential for everyone, if you’ve been previously diagnosed with arthritis, sleeping in the right position may be even more crucial for you.

With that in mind, what are the best ways to help an individual get prepared for a good night’s rest when they have to deal with pain and discomfort on a regular basis?

According to Nathan Wei, MD, Director of The Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland in Frederick, Maryland, an individual’s recommended sleeping posture largely depends on where their arthritis originated. For example, someone suffering from arthritis on their knees may sleep in a different position from someone who has arthritis on their neck. Based on where the individual experiences the most pain and discomfort from their arthritis, there are several sleeping posture suggestions to best accommodate the sleeping needs of a majority of individuals.

For individuals suffering from arthritis on their neck, the first priority is to use some kind of neck-support pillow. These are commonly known to be shaped like an arch which can offer additional support than a traditional pillow. When we sleep, the neck can involuntarily end up in an awkward position, stretching and straining the muscles and other tissues surrounding the cervical spine. Although the brain responds by moving the body when it senses a disruption within itself, the smallest amount of time in an incorrect sleeping posture can greatly aggravate an individual’s arthritis symptoms. By utilizing a specialized pillow designed to properly support the neck during sleep, arthritis sufferers as well as other people can benefit from less stress being placed against their neck. “Oftentimes, a traditional pillow won’t be nearly enough to support the neck,” stated Dr. Wei.

An abundance of people often turnover during the night and sleep on their stomachs, but in fact, sleeping on your stomach might be one of the most improper sleeping postures, especially for those with arthritis on their neck and/or back. People diagnosed with arthritis on their backs report that sleeping in this position makes their pain worse. The spine is naturally arched to support the structure of the body, and stomach sleeping places unnecessary amounts of pressure on the areas in the lower back which have many, small nerve fibers. Additionally, individuals who sleep on their stomachs also tend to rest their head on its side, stretching and straining their neck for prolonged periods of time, causing further pain and discomfort for people suffering from arthritis and its symptoms. If you must turn over onto your front, decrease the arching of your lower back by using a pillow or some sort of support under the hips, lifting them and bringing the body back into proper alignment.

For those people experiencing knee arthritis, it’s a frequent temptation to use a pillow below the knees, but according to Nathan Wei, utilizing this method has its risks. Knees that are slightly bent may begin to stiffen into that curved position over time which may lead to further complications for arthritis sufferers. Instead, it’s best recommended to ice your knees for about 10 to 20 minutes a few times a day to relieve the symptoms. Ice therapy, although only a temporal solution, can help reduce the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the affected knee to help ensure an individual can achieve a pain free night of rest.

While these sleeping postures are the best suitable positions for individuals with arthritis to prevent them from experiencing pain as well as getting good quality of sleep, it’s still important to seek professional medical attention in order to determine the source of your symptoms and formulate the best form of treatment for your specific arthritis pain and discomfort.

By Dr. Alex Jimenez


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