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Chronic neck problems while sleeping

cppolyccppoly Posts: 6
edited 04/18/2015 - 5:59 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone. I have chronic neck problems while sleeping at night which has been causing me to wake up 30 to 50 times every night for the past 8 years. I've tried many different things but nothing has worked or even shown the slightest bit of improvement. My current sleep routine consists of starting off sleeping on my back which lasts about 4 hours then switching to my stomach with another pillow. This process repeats about 30 times for the remainder of the night until I finally get out of bed. I'm conscious of all these wake ups and I know that my neck is not comfortable which causes me to constantly change positions and switch pillows. I don't have neck "pain" while waking up, maybe the best way to describe it is just neck discomfort, possibly a stiff neck. I've been through about 30 different pillows in the last 5 years. I've tried them all (expensive ones, memory foam, down, etc.) and just have found the current pillows that I'm using (cervical memory foam pillow for back sleeping and down pillow for stomach sleeping) to be the least destructive on my sleep.

I've seen one or two orthopedic surgeons in the past, nothing has come of it. One MRI two years ago noted central disc protrusion at C4-C5 without grossly compressing the cervical cord and mild degenerative spondylitic change with this disc. Another MRI a year after that indicated a few things: C3-C4: moderate right neural foraminal stenosis, C4-C5: mild disc bulge with bilateral mild neural foraminal stenosis, C5-C6 mild disc bulge with bilateral mild neural foraminal stenosis. A recent xray cervical motion study for ligament instability noted the atlantoaxial distance increases from 2 mm in neutral/extension to 3 mm in flexion stating "Trace dynamic instability at atlantoaxial articulation."

It seems that all these results are mild and not enough for a doctor to match my symptoms to the results, although really my life is being ruined from my lack of sleep.

I've been seeing a chiropractor who has been working on my posture, manipulating the area with massage and mild adjustments, and applying stim to the area. After about 10 treatments, I have not had any improvement. An xray that he did showed that my neck doesn't have a c curve and instead is straight. Also he noted my top vertebrae in my neck has an angle of around 45 degrees instead of a normal 15 degrees and lastly the vertebrae at C7 takes a sharper angle compared to the other neck vertebrae which is why he thought I might have ligament instability issues.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Should I see an another orthopedic neck surgeon, chiropractor, etc.? Is it worth it to get a 3D CT scan to possible reveal more information or other tests? I just feel like there’s nothing left at this point and that I have to live like this.

Thanks for the help!


  • I have had pain and problems with my neck in C3 and C4 too, and I found if I use a bunch of pillows to hold up my arms and legs, it kinda helps my neck a little. When on your side, put a pillow the longways to hold up your arm, and also a pillow to hold up your foot and leg. Also, I take a melatonin before bed 5MG which is drug free, and it helps a lot to relax me. They said my neck was straight too, the Dr said that might mean that there is inflammation in it. Take Naproxen for that. I sure hope this helps you! Neck pain really stinks!
  • ter10beartter10bear Posts: 4
    edited 04/18/2015 - 6:07 PM
    Another Dr told me to never sleep on my stomach, too.
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  • cppolyccppoly Posts: 6
    edited 04/20/2015 - 11:33 AM
    Does anyone know if there are any additional tests for the neck?

    Are there any chiropractors that specialize in neck treatment?

    Should I see a neck surgeon?
  • I would not let a chiropractor work on me, at all. Maybe try the physical therapist route. Traction always made me feel better at the time. Also, you could visit with a Neurosurgeon to see what your options are. Best of luck.
    ACDF C6/C7 on 05/20/15
    ...and it was the best decision of my life :-)
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