Having a herniated disc can mean you are in pain no matter what you try. Sitting does not help, and neither does standing. It even hurts when you lay down. Reducing the pressure on the injured disc is the key to finding relief. If you have chronic pain from a herniated disc, consulting a pain management expert may be the best option.
Recommended Sleeping Positions for a Herniated Disc
The best sleeping positions for relieving pain from a ruptured disc depend on where the injury is located.
Cervical Herniated Disc (Neck)
With this injury, the key to a good night’s sleep is in the thickness of your pillow.
Side Sleepers – Choose a slightly thicker pillow to keep your spine straight as you lay on your side. Your head should be kept level with the rest of your spine for the best relief.
Back Sleepers – Choose a thinner pillow to avoid tilting your head at an upwards angle. Imagine you are standing up straight and trying to recreate that spinal alignment in a prone position.
Upper Thoracic Herniated Disc (Near the Shoulders)
Follow the same tips above for sleeping with a herniated disc in the neck. Keeping your spine properly aligned, including your cervical spine, will help alleviate pressure from the upper back.
Side Sleepers – Place a pillow of medium thickness between your knees. Bring your knees up slightly into a relaxed fetal position. Avoid bending your head downwards towards your knees. It may put pressure on the thoracic spine.
Back Sleepers – Try placing a rolled-up towel or piece of foam under your lower back to adjust your spinal alignment.
Thoracic Herniated Disc (Mid-Back)
Most ruptured discs occur in the low back or the neck, but discs in the middle of the back can also become herniated. With a mid-back injury, the goal is to decompress the spine.
Side Sleepers – This sleeping position is not recommended for a thoracic herniation. If you must sleep on your side, keep a pillow between your knees to help keep the spine aligned.
Back Sleepers – Place 1 or two pillows under your knees while at the same time using a medium-thick pillow to keep your head in a neutral position.
For a Lumbar Herniated Disc (Lower Back)
The lower back is the most common area for a herniated disc.
Side Sleepers – If you are experiencing sciatica or other pain on your left side, sleep on your right side. Place pillows under your lower legs to slightly elevate them.
Back Sleepers – Use a rolled towel or piece of foam in the hollow of your lower back. A sleeping wedge is also effective for relieving pressure on the lower back.
Recommended Sitting Positions
Sitting puts pressure on the spine no matter how careful you are. The first recommendation is to avoid sitting whenever possible. Since we must all sit sometimes, the following suggestions may help relieve pain:
- Avoid vertical seatbacks. It is better to recline slightly
- Use a rolled towel to support your lower back
- Try an ergonomic chair or an exercise ball
If you must sit for long periods, be sure to take a short break every 30 minutes or so. Switching between a conventional chair, an ergonomic chair, and a ball every time you come back from a break may also be helpful.
Call St. Louis Pain Consultants when You Need Pain Management
Sometimes no matter how well you care for your herniated disc, you cannot get your pain under control. When it is time for serious pain management, contact St. Louis Pain Consultants. We specialize in treating chronic pain and its cause.