My neck only hurts when I sleep
March 2, 2021 2:07 PM   Subscribe

During the day, my neck (and back) feel totally fine, however I wake up from acute neck pain 1-2 times per night. The pain happens when I'm turning my head from one side to the other, as I'm changing sleep position (I generally sleep on my back or either side). It goes away after I've finished changing position, but it's still bad enough to wake me up.

I've tried different pillows (including a shredded foam one), and they all feel totally fine/supportive/comfortable/whatever to me, but the pain still happens. What on earth causes this? It doesn't even really feel like muscles, almost fascia or something? When I google, I get results about sleep *causing* daytime neck pain, which isn't the case here.
posted by unknowncommand to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a similar experience and its worse when I'm under a lot of stress. Recently realized it's because I am grinding my teeth in my sleep. My dentist made me a splint thing to wear at night and I'm waiting to see if that helps.
posted by zdravo at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2021

Best answer: I get this, what seems to drive it is when I spend a sustained period of time working with my laptop on my couch- in a non-ergo position. I've found that it isn't sore when I'm doing this, but when I go to sleep I'm woken up over the next two nights. I've found a combination of a therapeutic pillow, a couple of advil and doing slow neck rolls (to stretch it out) seems to help. For me, the trigger seems to be looking down at a computer in my lap for way too long.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2021

It doesn't even really feel like muscles, almost fascia or something?

You've mentioned in previous comments that you've had peritonsillar abscess (also called quinsy) and that you've had an unusual number of strep infections.

The Wiki article I've linked points out that PA often penetrates connective tissue (which would include fascia) and causes pain.

My guess is that another cycle of PA is starting up.

If pressed to account for the fact that it only happens at night, I'd say that all the motion and muscle tension of waking hours keeps fluid buildup down in the connective tissue, and that prevents the pain.
posted by jamjam at 6:37 PM on March 2, 2021

Best answer: If you can, it might be worth checking this out with a physical therapist.
posted by trig at 2:35 AM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Whenever I’ve had trouble with neck pain at night, I’ve gone entirely without pillows for a few nights and it really helped. It is a bit weird to get used to if you normally have big pillows but in my case only necessary for a night or two.

I now have nice feather filled ones which i smash quite flat and haven’t had an issue for a long time.
posted by ElasticParrot at 6:06 AM on March 3, 2021

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