Neck pain isn’t just uncomfortable; it can get in the way of daily activities. If you woke up this morning with a stiff, sore neck, it could be that you simply slept wrong. But if waiting out the pain becomes a regular part of your morning routine, you could have a chronic neck and spine problem that requires professional attention from a doctor at Spine Correction Center of the Rockies. Consider the most likely causes of morning neck pain and don’t hesitate to seek medical help if the pain is constant or worsens over time.
Wrong Sleep Position and Pillow
Two positions are best for sleeping: on your side and on your back. Sleeping on your stomach forces your neck into an awkward position, which may cause neck pain. Pick a pillow that’s most comfortable for you. Here are examples of some effective options:
- Pillow with built-in neck support: The rounded bottom supports the natural curve in your neck while the flatter central portion cushions your head.
- Feather pillow: This conforms to the shape of your head and neck. You need to replace this type of pillow yearly because it collapses over time.
- Memory foam pillow: The foam conforms to the shape of your head and neck and doesn’t collapse over time.
Your quality of sleep can play a role in how your body feels in the morning. In a 2008 study cited by Harvard Health Publications, researchers compared morning neck and shoulder pain in more than 4,000 men and women, some of whom suffered from sleeping problems (categorized as trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up early and non-restorative sleep).
The researchers found that people who reported struggles with three or more of these four problems were far more likely to develop chronic neck and shoulder pain after one year than people who reported little or no sleep difficulties. This might be because sleep disturbances interrupt the muscle relaxation and healing process that normally occurs while sleeping.
Neck and Spine Problems
Your neck pain might have nothing to do with how you sleep at all; the pain may simply manifest itself in the morning. According to Spine-Health, some of the neck and spine problems that may be causing your morning discomfort include:
- Cervical disc herniation: If pain radiates down your arm and is often accompanied by numbness or tingling in your arms and hands, you may have a pinched nerve in your neck caused by a herniated disc. Your symptoms may start suddenly or develop gradually.
- Cervical foraminal stenosis: If your neck pain develops over time and is most often spurred by certain activities or neck positions, you could have an impinged nerve root on one side of the spine, known as cervical foraminal stenosis. This is caused by wear and tear or aging-related changes in the neck joints.
- Cervical disc degeneration: If you suffer from low-level chronic pain that flares when you put your neck in certain positions, you could have cervical disc degeneration. In most cases, this condition is asymptomatic, but in some people, it can cause chronic neck pain.
- Cervical osteoarthritis: If your neck feels worse in the morning and at the end of the day, this could be a sign of cervical osteoarthritis, or arthritis of the neck. You may feel your best when your neck moves around during the day and only complain of pain when it comes time to sit or lie still. Cervical osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of the cartilage that separates neck joints and occurs most often in older adults.
- Kyphosis: Your neck has a natural curve to it, like a banana. Kyphosis is a reversed cervical curve, which means the neck bends slightly forward instead of back. While this condition most often occurs in the upper back (called thoracic kyphosis), it can also occur in the neck. If you have this condition, it could cause slowly developing pain and numbness in one or both hands.
If you have chronic neck and spine problems, it’s likely that morning stiffness and pain are just the start of your symptoms. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse! Contact Spine Correction Center of the Rockies or call us at (970) 658-5115 for a free consultation. We can get at the root of the problem to help you avoid future neck pain.