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Sciatica, Part 2: How to Sleep with Sciatica

You’ve likely experienced lower back pain at some point in your life. However, if you have experienced a nerve injury like sciatica, your pain could be debilitating and interfere with your sleep.

Sciatic pain starts in the lower back and spreads through the leg. It is usually the result of a herniated disc or bone overgrowth putting pressure on your sciatic nerve, which stretches from the spinal cord to your foot.

In addition to lower back pain, you might experience:

  • Pain on the inner side of the thigh
  • Weakness or numbness in the leg
  • Tingling sensation along thigh and leg

While some patients may require surgery to relieve the pain, many patients experience temporary sciatica that can go away with nonsurgical treatment. Part of this treatment can include lifestyle changes, such as sleeping positions.

The following are some sleeping adjustments and positions that might make sleeping with sciatica more manageable.

For your safety, we encourage you to discuss your options with your spine specialist before changing your sleeping position or habits.

Adjust Your Sleeping Position

Your sleeping position can put pressure on different parts of your body, which can be painful if you have sciatica. Putting too much pressure on the affected hip or leg can amplify your pain.

There are many different adjustments you can make, and different methods work for different patients. Sleeping on your side can help, but you should avoid sleeping on the injured side. Some patients find that sleeping in the fetal position helps relieve pain, but others say this makes their pain worse.

Talk to your doctor about which sleeping positions you should try.

Use a Towel or Pillow to Get More Comfortable

A rolled towel or pillow can help relieve pain when you’re lying in bed. Incorporate either into your sleeping position to cushion your back and hips and provide comfort and relief while sleeping.

Some options for using towels and pillows during sleep include:

  • Putting a pillow between your knees while you lie on your side
  • Extending a knee to rest on a pillow while you lie on your side
  • Putting a pillow under your knees while you lie on your back
  • Putting a rolled towel under your lower back
  • Using a body pillow

Discuss these options with your doctor to determine if they are right for you.

Consider Your Mattress

Your mattress plays a big part in the quality of your sleep, and it’s crucial to consider if you have sciatica. If your mattress is too soft, it can cause your spine to bend, aggravating your condition. Doctors recommend sleeping on a medium-firm mattress if you suffer from sciatica.

Georgia Neurosurgical Institute can help you create a successful treatment plan for sciatica and other nerve complications.

Our neurosurgeons are advanced, highly trained spine specialists who offer comprehensive solutions for many spinal conditions. If you are experiencing sciatic nerve pain and have difficulty sleeping, schedule a consultation with our team today: 478-743-7092

Stay tuned for part 3 in our Sciatica series!

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