- By wayne mahmoud
- Published 10/22/2010
Do you suffer from neck pain? Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you have a knot of muscles in your shoulders? Do you wake up with neck stiffness & headaches that go away after you’ve had a hot shower and your breakfast? If you do, your pain could be caused by your pillow. We ask every patient that complains of neck pain about their pillow. How old is your pillow? How many pillows do you sleep on? What size is your pillow? What’s your pillow made out of? These are important facts to know when assessing a patient who complains of this type of neck pain. When we ask patients about their pillows, this is what they say… My Pillow? I don’t know, my wife bought it for me. Or. My Pillow? I have to push it in to my neck, because it’s the only way I can get comfortable. Or. My Pillow? I can’t get comfortable with my pillow, I sometimes have to get rid of it through the night. Then there’s this answer… Oh, my pillow. I love my pillow. I take it on holiday or on business trips with me. Because it has taken me so long to find the right one, I can’t risk a bad pillow when I arrive at my destination. I love my pillow! The answer to your neck pain could be right under your head & neck. Let’s get one thing straight. We don’t like you sleeping on your front or face down. There only one thing worse than sleeping face down though. That’s sleeping face down with a pillow. That’s really bad news. You see, unless you are sleeping on a bed that is the exact copy of your Osteo’s treatment table, and it has a face hole for you to rest your cheeks on as you lie on your front, you will have to turn your head one way or another. That then means that you’ll be twisting your neck. That then means that you’ll be putting a huge amount of torsion or twisting force through your neck joints, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. This can give you neck pain and headaches. So if you can’t sleep on your tummy, you’ll need to sleep on your back or your side. This should be encouraged from childhood. Don’t let your kids sleep on their tummies. They’ll be fine as a child but as they get older and their joints are not as flexible or as resilient, they’ll start to get neck problems and it’ll be harder to change. I’ve had patients trying to do anything they can to get out of sleeping on their tummy as adults. Tennis balls sewn in their T-shirts, pillows strategically placed by their side and so on. It’s very difficult to change. So if you need to sleep on your side or back, you need some golden rules to follow. Golden Rule No.1 Use a contour Pillow. That’s a pillow that’s got a contoured shape which fits into the natural hollow of your neck, whether your on your side or back. It doesn’t matter what it’s made of, it’s the shape that’s important. Golden Rule No.2 Make sure that your pillow height positions your head level with your spine. This will often mean that for men you will need more than one pillow or a pillow and a folded blanket or towel under the pillow of your choice. Golden Rule No.3 Check your position. When you’ve got set up in bed. You are lying in the position of your choice (but not on your tummy!) get someone to look at your neck & spine alignment. If you are lying on your back, make sure that your head is in a slightly flexed position. This is a good starting position, as when you’re actually asleep you’ll relax and your neck & head will become level with your spine. It’s better to start off flexed than extended or arched backwards in the neck. If you are lying on your side, lie with your back to the person observing you and get them to make sure that you’re spine and neck are straight. Once again you will have your head slightly bent away from the shoulder you are lying on so that when you’re asleep and relaxed you’ll be in line with your spine. Well, that’s it! Your guide to the right pillow and correct position in bed.
by wayne mahmoud
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