The Shoulder Relief Pillow
My name is Dr. Enrique Castro and I am a chiropractor who specializes in sleep ergonomics. Many years ago I identified a problem that was preventing many of my patients from responding properly to my treatments for their back pain, neck pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, etc. They couldn’t sleep.
No Sleep. No Results.
My patients were caught in a vicious loop of misery: their physical pain disturbed their sleep, and their lack of sleep, in turn, made their physical pain disorders worse. No wonder they weren’t getting better.
I tried an experiment. I asked my low back pain patients to try sleeping on their side at night with a large pillow supporting their top leg. This had good results with many of these patients reporting an improvement in their low back pain.
I advised some of my neck pain and hip pain cases to try the same sleeping position and the results were even better. So naturally, I became a real advocate for the side sleeping position and told every one to use it. But then there was a problem.
The Problem With Sleeping On Your Side.
My patients started coming to me with shoulder pain and arm pain problems. Sleeping on their side was hurting their shoulders. Not just the bottom shoulder that tends to get crushed by the weight of the upper body, but also the top shoulder. To try to alleviate the pain they would switch sides throughout the night, but to do this frequently enough to stop the shoulder pain from occurring caused them to lose sleep.
I had to find a solution. I instructed them to place a rolled up towel or small pillow between the armpit of their bottom shoulder and the bed surface. This would act as a spacer and take the compression off the shoulder joint. The results were mixed. It helped their shoulder pain but most of my patients found it very uncomfortable to sleep with this pillow wedged in their armpit. What to do?
Pain Is The Best Teacher.
It wasn't until I was dealing with my own shoulder pain at night that the solution came to me.
I had hurt my shoulder while exercising one day and found it nearly impossible to sleep that night. If I laid on the hurt shoulder the pain was way too intense to sleep. If I slept on my other side the injured shoulder still kept me up because my unsupported arm and shoulder would become numb and painful.
Using my shoulder pain as a guide, I tired every conceivable sleeping position until I found a simple way to sleep on either side without my shoulder hurting. If I stacked three pillows in front of my chest and laid my top arm on them, the pain from my injured shoulder immediately stopped. And what blew my mind was that it didn't matter if I was laying on my hurt shoulder or on the other side, as long as I had the extra pillows supporting my upper body there was no pain or numbness at all.
Of course I still didn't get much sleep that night because I was too excited designing the perfect side sleeper pillow in my head. Learn more about that pillow by clicking here.
“I'm not embarrassed to admit that I sleep so much more soundly when I hug this pillow. Also, my neck doesn't hurt when I wake up in the morning and I think it helps me breath naturally with my tummy. Thank you Dr. C!.”
Susan McKenzie, CO