Office and Sleep Ergonomics
In patients with spinal disorders, especially individuals with neck pain or cervicogenic headaches, proper ergonomics of the desk and sleeping surfaces is critical in managing day-to-day symptoms and preventing flare-ups. Most Americans spend approximately 6-8 hours per day in front of a computer or on the desk and about 6-8 hours a day sleeping in bed. This means, about two thirds of the day is spent in one of the 2 positions.
Proper ergonomics of the desk as well as proper sleeping surface is an important part of preventing neck pain or lower back pain and also managing those individuals who have pre-existing neck pain or lower back pain. Observing proper ergonomics combined with staying fit, daily exercising, stretching and frequent rest may result in decreased frequency of medical visits for these conditions.
CERVICAL SPINE PHYSICAL THERAPY
Having a supportive mattress and pillow helps optimize your body and neck position while sleeping. To prevent neck pain, maintaining a neutral position of the neck is important especially when you are side sleeping. A mattress and pillow should support the natural curvature of your spine whether sleeping on your back or your side. We suggest spending money on a quality mattress and pillow which are supportive. It appears that firm memory foam mattress and pillow (firmness 5-7 on scale of 10) support the spine and the neck well. A well-constructed spring mattress or hybrid type mattress is also a good choice. Mattress should be changed every 10 years. Pillows should be changed every 3-5 years. Follow manufacturer recommendation regarding flipping or turning the mattress from time to time.
There is no perfect sleeping position and individuals go through changing positions until they find what’s comfortable for them. Having said that, some sleep positions can put added pressure on your neck, shoulders, hips, lower back, all of which can lead to pain. Typically, sleeping on your stomach can flatten the natural spine curvature and put some additional strain on your neck or lower back muscles. When lying on your stomach, your neck is rotated on the pillow which can increase pressure in the muscles and joints in your neck and create additional neck pain or headaches. If you are a back sleeper, we recommend a pillow between your knees. If you are a stomach sleeper, a soft pillow under your abdomen may help ease up the strain on her lower back. If you are a side sleeper, a slight bend in your knee and hips with a pillow in between them can be helpful.