While your spine naturally curves, it curves in places it shouldn’t if you suffer from scoliosis. When the spine rotates, twists or curves due to scoliosis, you may experience outward symptoms like one hip or shoulder being higher than the other. Typically diagnosed during adolescence, scoliosis results from a congenital disorder, nerve condition or from an unknown cause. If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, finding the right sleeping position can help to relieve pain.
Improper sleeping position or poor posture do not cause scoliosis, according to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. While scoliosis may make sleeping uncomfortable due to the abnormal curvature of the spine, the way you sleep will not worsen your condition. However, adopting a better sleeping position may help relieve some of the pain related to your scoliosis.
Thoracic Curve Position
A curve in the upper back or thoracic spine is one of the most common scoliosis types, according to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. This scoliosis type tends to curve to the right. To relieve pressure on this area, you may wish to sleep on your back with a towel or thin pillow tucked underneath your shoulder blades in addition to a standard pillow under your head to take pressure off your back. If you sleep on your side, use a body pillow tucked between your legs to open up the spinal canal. Take a rolled-up towel or small pillow under your upper ribcage to correct your abnormal spinal curvature. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this position can temporarily distort your back and neck, causing pain in the morning.
Lumbar Curve Position
Another common area where scoliosis occurs is the lower spine, known as the lumbar region. For a scoliosis curve of this type, try different positions with a rolled-up towel directly underneath or just above your lower back. You may also wish to place a small pillow underneath your neck in addition to your usual pillow under your head. Try placing the pillows in different positions before leaving the pillows under your body overnight.
Check with your physician before adding pillows or devices to manipulate your spine while sleeping. Because some scoliosis forms can impinge on the spinal cord nerves, ensure you will not decrease blood and spinal fluid flow through your sleeping position. If your back curve or related symptoms are severe, a physical therapist may be able to provide specific recommendations related to sleep position and your unique back curvature.