After you or your child receive a diagnosis of scoliosis, your first thought may be, “Well, that’s not too serious. Except for the back pain.” Actually, it is serious. Scoliosis can affect other areas of your health, including your emotional outlook. If your child is young or in their teens, they may see their condition as the end of their social life.
Before you were diagnosed with scoliosis, you struggled with mysterious, sometimes intense back pain. It may always strike in the same area of your back. It also may feel like two sharp, hot pokers are squeezing your muscles together. Nothing you do eases the spasm—because that’s what it is. Since your spinal column is abnormally curved to the right or left, the muscles in the area of that curvature feel the effects the most.
Sleeping? Hah! You or your child can’t remember the last restful night’s sleep you had. It may be your sleeping position. Or it could be your mattress.
Best Mattresses for Scoliosis Sufferers
Mattress companies stress the need for good spine alignment if you have scoliosis. This helps anyone. But for someone diagnosed with this condition, optimal alignment is even more important. This is why the right mattress is so key. You need a semi-firm mattress that gently supports your frame and spine as you go to sleep. You don’t want such a soft mattress that you sink down. Your spine has virtually no support this way.
The Casper has a third layer which provides the most support beneath your hips. You may carry the most weight in your body around your hips., so this mattress helps you to keep your spine in a comfortable position.
If you’re looking for a bed with memory foam, the Zenhaven has what you’re looking for. Its 5-zoned comfort” feature helps to combine soft pressure relief along with the firm support your back needs.
Saatva’s Loom & Leaf has a high quality foam top that supports you as you sleep. These memory foams are its outstanding feature. They conform well to your body’s dimensions.
Winkbed mattresses are highly durable under everyday wear and tear conditions. Mattresses come in three firmness levels. You may decide to buy the Luxury Firm, containing pressure relief and support.
From Saatva, the classic innerspring feeling is actually a coil-on-coil system. Two layers of coils are separated by a lumbar support pad. The second layer of coils is an interconnected bonnell coil system. The Euro style pillow top helps to cradle your body on top of the bed.
Luxi’s 3-in-one mattress has three firmness settings. You can change this from soft to medium and firm by having the interior foams inserted in using an exact pattern.
Whatever you choose, your sleeping habits and positions should help you to keep the pressure off your already-aching back.
The Right Sleeping Position for Your Comfort
For you, since you have scoliosis, your sleeping positions are extremely important. Before going on, you need to know that, with your condition, you cannot sleep on your back. If this is one of your favorite position, find some other position that allows you to sleep more easily (pain-free). When you stop sleeping on your back, your spine and back muscles are going to feel so much better than they do now. While stomach sleeping may feel really comfortable, it makes your lower back arch abnormally. Instead, sleep on your back or either side.
Your specialist may recommend learning how to sleep on your back. Back-sleeping helps to distribute your weight across its widest surface, thus putting less pressure on any one specific area. If you have a firm mattress, back-sleeping can help you reduce the risk of developing hyperkyphosis, or excessive curvature of the thoracic spine. If you develop this condition along with your scoliosis, your back will resemble a hunchback. If sleeping on your back means your lower back is feeling too much pressure. I you feel this, roll up bath towels or a pillow or two under your shoulder blades. another good spot for a rolled-up pillow is at the base of your spine.
If sleeping on your side is more comfortable, that’s good. Doing so helps to keep your spine in a neutral, straight position. You’re less likely to feel your nerves protesting. You’re also at reduced risk for sleep apnea. Your quality of sleep will improve and the circulation in your brain improves. You’re using gravity to help your spine take a neutral position. Hint: Lie on the opposite side of the body from your biggest curvature. If that curve is on your left side, then lie down to sleep on your right side.
How Curvature of Your Spine Affects Your Life
“If scoliosis is all in my spine, why would it affect the rest of my life so badly?”
Dealing with near-constant pain can affect your emotional outlook. Add to that the inability to carry out your usual activities and you’re likely to feel pretty bad.
A severe castoff scoliosis can keep your lungs from expanding fully and functioning correctly. If you have a pulmonary condition, such as asthma, that become even worse. Scoliosis can get worse. That is the degree of your spinal curvature can grow. If this is happening to you, your rib cage can actually rotate and it’ll stick out of one side of your body.
Where your spine curves affects your type of scoliosis. A lumbar curvature is low down on your spine, close to your buttocks. A thoracolumbar curve starts at your upper back and ends in your lower back. A thoracic curve sits in your upper back. Finally, if you have a combined curvature, your spine curves to one side at the top of your body and to the opposite side of your body on the lower side of your spine. Ironically, it helps to create a balance in your body that will make the curvature less noticeable.
Scoliosis hurts. Because your spine is uneven, your walk may be uneven as well. It also means that your muscles are uneven. Your back muscles will be stronger one one side of your body and weaker on the opposite side. If your spine twists, your trunk will be shorter—again, this doesn’t leave much room for your lungs to work. Your heart may not function very well, either.
Scoliosis can cause the muscles near to your curvature to go into spasm. This can make it hard for you to do the things you need to do.
Not all Sleeping Positions are Good for Your Scoliosis
Your spine specialist may suggest that you find a low-profile pillow to rest between your thighs. If you sleep on your back, this helps you to keep your spine neutral. A low-profile pillow can also make your neck more comfortable.
The one position you should not take is sleeping on your stomach. This leaves sleeping on your back or on either side. Whichever you choose, make sure it is the most comfortable for you, allowing you to sleep restfully and avoid back spasms.
If you’re a back sleeper and you have a thoracic curve, place a flat pillow under your shoulder blades. If you have lumbar scoliosis, use a normal (higher-profile) pillow to help raise your head. Add to this a small rolled towel for the base of your neck and a small pillow to place at the small of your back.
Your sleeping partner won’t like this suggestion. When you first get into bed, move around and wiggle your body around until you have found the best and most restful position you can find.
Sleeping at Night While Wearing a Brace
Today’s spine specialists don’t like to prescribe back braces for their scoliosis patients. They don’t allow the body’s core to remain strong. Plus, they are pretty uncomfortable to try to sleep in.
If your doctor does want you to wear a brace to bed, follow every instruction provided. In addition, make sure that you keep every area of your back brace dry. If it gets wet in any area that touches your skin, you may develop a rash or worse, skin ulcers.
If your doctor allows you to do this, sleep on your back while you’re wearing your brace. Slip a pillow under your legs so the brace won’t dig into your body.
If you can’t get around the discomfort and bulkiness of your brace, ask your doctor if there’s a lightweight option for you to wear.
Even With Scoliosis, You Can Sleep Better
You don’t have to worry about trying to sleep through back discomfort with scoliosis. Talk to your doctor and a physical therapist. Listen to your body. What feels best and allows you to sleep the best (other than on your stomach)?
If you find that it’s easiest to maintain a neutral position with a pillow between your legs or under your lower back, use them. If your scoliosis is in your lumbar region, that rolled-up towel can give you badly needed relief.
During the day, exercise gently. This improves blood circulation throughout your body and you’ll fall asleep more easily at night. Work up your intensity of exercise and avoid those that jar your back and spine.
Eat foods that improve your bone density. As your doctor about adding alfalfa, kale, peppermint, oregano and thyme to your diet. These may help to increase collagen production and bone density.