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Neck pain when I lie down

Hello all,
I have recently been experiencing some rather strange symptoms that worry me a bit. I am currently abroad, so I want to avoid going to the doctor if possible, but I will go if I have to.

Any time I lie down, I start to feel a strange pressure at the base of my skull that slowly becomes painful. It is the same feeling whether or not I use 0 pillows, 1 pillow, or 2 pillows. The pressure oddly almost seems to move into my sinuses after a while. Sometimes it also eventually transforms into a headache. The pain is not all that bad, but it is enough that I have a very difficult time sleeping and am generally exhausted all day every day. Ibuprofen helps some, but does not fix the problem.

I had a somewhat similar problem about a year ago, and my doctor diagnosed me with a neck strain and gave me muscle relaxers. By the time I was done with that prescription, the neck pain was gone and I didn't have any more problems until recently.

This might just be a neck strain again, assuming it is possible to get one from an awful sleeping situation. I have been sleeping on an awful bed with awful pillows for about 4 months, and when I first got here my neck was always sore when I woke up. Either way, the symptoms are so strange that it is starting to trouble me. Last time I had neck problems, it was just straight up pain and stiffness, not this strange feeling of building pressure.

Has anyone ever experienced this odd symptom and know what problem they have/had?

Thanks for your help!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Ron DiLauro


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • They can make a lot of difference. You can do gentle neck stretches in the morning that might help. sometime I take a thick scarf around the back of my neck and gently pull unward for about 10 second. Also if you have a towel you can roll up to a comfortable width and sleep with that at the base of your skull/neck area while on your back. I do that at hotels if I forget to bring my cervical pillow. If you can get comfortable sleeping, you will probably feel better during the day.
  • guthrum06gguthrum06 Posts: 2
    edited 11/22/2013 - 8:53 AM
    Thanks for your response!
    I have started doing neck stretches and have noticed some improvement. I am a little less concerned now that it is something major, and think it is just that my bed is absolutely awful and I am getting old. Unfortunately I cannot do a lot about the bed I have (I have assigned housing), but I can try to find some better pillows.
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