7 potential causes of neck pain after sleeping

Do you experience neck pain when you wake up in the morning? Chronic neck pain after sleeping is often a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. Sleeping is a way to refresh ourselves, so waking up with renewed pain can be very disappointing. If you are looking for a way to address your neck pain, the first step is identifying the cause.

Neck pain after sleeping can have many causes. From chronic conditions to postural issues, there may be a lot of contributing factors. To accurately identify the root of your pain, a professional assessment can be important. This is where physical therapy comes in. A licensed physical therapist can conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify the source of your neck pain. Once you understand the cause of your pain, you can start making progress toward a solution. Physical therapy can be a great way to manage your neck pain and receive treatments geared toward long-term relief.

What causes neck pain after sleeping?

  • Poor support — Neck pain is not always caused by an underlying condition. Sometimes the cause is an environmental factor. If you do not get enough neck support when you sleep, it can lead to neck pain when you wake up. Support issues are often the result of a pillow that doesn’t meet your needs. Inadequate pillow support can put your neck in odd positions, leading to neck pain later on. A lack of support often causes issues with neck alignment. If poor support is the cause of your pain, you may want to invest in a more supportive pillow. A good pillow will help maintain your neck’s natural curvature. Your mattress may also be at fault. If your mattress forces your body into uncomfortable positions, it might be time to find a mattress that supports proper spinal alignment.
  • Sleeping position — Your sleeping position can have a big impact on your spinal health. Some sleeping positions tend to put more strain on the neck than others. If you are experiencing neck pain, it can help to experiment with different positions. Sleeping on your side and on your back are generally considered to cause the least neck stress. Sleeping on your stomach, however, may put more pressure on your neck. A physical therapist can help instruct you on the best sleeping posture as you look for a sleeping position that works for you.
  • Tension and stress — Do you feel tension in your neck during the day? Tight neck muscles can lead to neck pain during sleep. If muscle tension and stress are the cause of your neck pain, relaxation is important. Physical therapy can provide a range of techniques geared toward muscle relaxation. With the right treatment, you can improve your neck’s flexibility while alleviating your discomfort.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints. It can occur in joints throughout the body, including the neck. There are multiple kinds of arthritis that can lead to neck pain. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, can cause swelling and pain around your neck. The symptoms of RA tend to be worse after periods of inactivity. This could explain why you feel waves of neck pain after sleeping. Another kind of arthritis that can cause neck pain is cervical osteoarthritis. This is a condition that involves degeneration of spinal tissue. Cervical osteoarthritis can cause chronic pain, stiffness and muscle spasms. Your physical therapist may also identify bone spurs, which are little bony growths that can form along your vertebrae. If you have arthritis, management is key. Physical therapy can be a great way to keep symptoms such as neck pain under control.
  • Muscle strain — Are your neck muscles overworked? Straining your neck muscles during the day can lead to pain through the night and into the following morning. The causes of neck strain are not always obvious. While you might think of neck strain as the result of constant movement, it can also be caused by static positions. If you have poor posture when sitting at your desk, for example, you may experience neck strain despite not moving your head much. The solutions for muscle strain include postural changes and focused stretches. Your physical therapist can help you incorporate neck stretches into your daily routine to help prevent strain.
  • Pinched nerve — Nerve pain is different from other kinds of pain. If your neck pain is caused by a nerve issue, it may come with sensations of tingling and numbness. You might also feel a kind of cool heat radiating from the center of your painful area. In the neck, nerve pain is often caused by a pinched nerve. A nerve can get pinched when other parts of the body compress it. This is sometimes the result of inflammation in a particular tissue. Your physical therapist can help identify the source of your nerve pain and take steps to find a solution.
  • Teeth grinding — Teeth grinding, sometimes referred to medically as bruxism, can cause a range of issues. One of the most common symptoms is jaw pain. Tension and pain around your jaw can also lead to headaches and neck pain. If you are experiencing these symptoms when you wake up in the morning, you might be grinding your teeth in your sleep. Using a mouthguard can help prevent grinding and reduce neck pain in the future.

How to fix neck pain after sleeping

Looking for a way to fix your neck pain? Physical therapy can offer a range of great solutions. After identifying the source of your pain, a physical therapist can work with you to develop a tailored treatment plan. The most effective treatments will depend on your particular condition. With a plan customized to your needs, your physical therapist can help you find relief and avoid the need for invasive medical treatments. Learning more about the way physical therapy addresses neck pain can be helpful as you prepare for treatment. Two common PT methods for neck pain relief are focused stretches and manual therapy.

Manual therapy is one of the central treatment methods of physical therapy. This type of treatment involves a hands-on approach. With manual therapy techniques, your physical therapist will use their hands to apply gentle motions and controlled pressure. Manual techniques such as soft tissue manipulation can help ease tension around your neck and provide relief. By promoting better blood circulation, manual therapy can also accelerate healing. This can be essential if your pain is the result of a neck injury.

In addition to manual therapy, PT stretches can also play a pivotal role in treating neck pain. Some stretches, which are called passive exercises, can be assisted by your physical therapist. If you have trouble moving your neck independently, passive exercise may be helpful. Active neck stretches can also be important. Your physical therapist can guide you through a regimen of gentle stretches designed to improve flexibility and reduce tension. Many of these stretches can be continued between clinical sessions, helping you make consistent progress toward recovery.

Find a solution for your neck pain at Lattimore Physical Therapy

If you are ready to address your neck pain, Lattimore Physical Therapy offers a range of great solutions. Our team is dedicated to providing top-notch care for neck pain. Each of our therapists has plenty of experience and deep knowledge related to neck issues. The expertise of our team helps ensure that you receive the best treatments for your condition. With our effective and evidence-driven pain relief methods, you can work toward lasting relief from your symptoms.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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