Sciatica is a painful condition, that is usually triggered by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. Even though the narrative in regards to sciatica is almost non-existent, many people get affected by the painful condition.
In the past decade, the sciatica cases have doubled, and alongside scoliosis and fibromyalgia, sciatica is one of the most common and widespread conditions.
Alongside numerous difficulties sciatica patients have to deal with, almost all of them point out the fact that they cannot find a proper sleeping position that will reduce the pain and pain-related anxiety and stress.
That is why, in the following paragraphs, we’re going to take a look at the best sleeping positions for people suffering from sciatica. There are also many ways you can prevent this condition from affecting the quality of your sleep.
Hopefully, the presented information will allow you to finally get a good-quality snooze, so let’s get started!
The Anatomy of Sciatica
For those who are not familiar and want to know more, sciatica is a condition that is usually caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The pain manifests itself in the lower back, so many people confuse it with strained muscles and other injuries.
Note: The main distinction between sciatica and other lower back injuries is that the sciatic pain moves to the lower legs and affects a wider region, not just the lower back. Sciatica usually affects one side of the lower back or one leg.
Such pain distribution makes sleep more complicated, so it is not uncommon that people with sciatica also develop sleep disorders, like interrupted sleep or sleep anxiety.
What Causes Sciatica?
Based on research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sciatica is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve, a herniated disc (with nerve root compression), lumbar stenosis, and possibly tumors. Sciatica can be sometimes hard to diagnose, as it is often confused with other lower back injuries.
The condition is, however, often caused by serious spinal infections, spinal tumors, degenerative disc diseases, muscle spasms, or pregnancy. Furthermore, sciatica can be caused by more serious conditions that require immediate medical attention, such as spondylolisthesis, Cauda Equina Syndrom, etc.
All of these conditions have this in common; they affect the lower back, the spine, and the nerves in this area, causing extreme pain, nerve damage, deterioration of the spinal column, bones or muscles, and much more.
Best (And The Worst) Sleeping Positions for Sciatica
Finding the right sleeping position when suffering from sciatica can be a rather difficult task. Since you’re probably feeling pain on one side, you need to adjust not only your sleeping position but also the sleeping environment to avoid putting to much pressure on other body regions. That is why research has shown particular sleeping positions to be perfect for sciatica patients;
1. Sleeping on the back: Best one for sciatica patients
Sleeping on the back is considered to be the best one for sciatica patients. Because the pain comes from the irritated sciatic nerve, it is important to reduce the pressure from the area where the sciatic nerve is located; the lower back and the lumbar discs. For that reason, sleeping in the supine position is perfect.
To achieve this sleeping position, you will need to lie on your back, making sure your whole body is resting and is in contact with the bed. Then, you will elevate your knees and place several pillows beneath them.
Place as many pillows as you find comfortable, so long you’re feeling supported and not in pain. If you find it difficult to sleep in this position, make sure to place extra pillows on the side of the back, under your arms and a proper pillow under the neck.
Note: you can add a small, soft pillow or a cushion under the hips or lower back to ensure less stress on these ligaments, joints, and nerves in this area.
2. Sleeping on the side: Second-best
The second-best sleeping position for sciatica patients is sleeping on the side. It is believed that sleeping on the side can provide the necessary relief from the pain, as well as that it can reduce the pressure on the lower back.
Because you’re not sleeping directly on your back, there is no pressure on the muscles, disc, and the sciatic nerve. However, for this position to be beneficial, it is important to keep the spine aligned, the hips straight and of course, the knees curled up a little bit towards the chest.
Then, you will push the knees a little bit towards the chest, keep them bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, place the pillow(s) between the knees to decrease the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
For more support you can place a pillow under the waist area; this way you can ensure the body stays in that position the whole night, without putting extra pressure on the lower back.
3. Sleep On The Stomach: Worst
Sleeping on the stomach is the worst sleeping position for sciatica patients. This sleeping position is likely to increase the pain levels and damage to the nerve. Even if you’re not suffering from sciatica, you should avoid sleeping on the stomach.
Sleeping on the stomach has also shown to contribute to cases of herniated disc and overall damage and injury to the lower back nerves and muscles.
Sciatic Pain During Sleep: 3 More FAQs
Sciatica is truly a terrible, painful condition that unfortunately, more and more people have to deal with. We hope that the information we presented is going to be helpful for the sciatica patients out there.
However, we do advise you to consult with your doctor or medical professional before utilizing any of the recommendations regarding sleeping positions and other tips for sleeping with sciatica. It is important your doctor sees whether and how these recommendations apply to your case. We don’t want you to cause more damage and pain to yourself.
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