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Stiffness in upper back when laying down, painful breathing, pins and needles in hand. Serious?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
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Every time I lay down for the past 3 months, I begin to get very sore/stiff in my mid to upper right back region. This makes it very difficult to sleep. Also during the night and for the first hour or so that I wake up, XXXXXXX breaths tend to annoy/hurt. I have always felt like I've had flexibility issues and issues with my bed but this is starting to affect my mood everyday. Last night, my hands also fell asleep (pins and needles sensation), I don't know if I am stressing out and this causes that but it has happened before as well. I tend to sleep on my side. Weirdest part of this is that once I am moving around the pain goes away, especially from XXXXXXX breaths. I have seen a chiropractor but have not gotten x rays just yet. I am an active guy (work out 3-5 times a week) but took last week off to see if it would help and it was the same thing when I laid down. Thank you for any help, this has to be one of the more annoying things to happen to me and I hope it is nothing more serious!
Posted Mon, 17 Sep 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 3 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
The stiffness in your upper right region of back on lying down could be due to-
1. A beat-up mattress that does not give adequate support might cause stiffness and pain. You need to use a firm mattress preferably a cotton mattress which gives our back a good support. Even the sleeping position matters, so avoid sleeping on sides and stomach. While on work don't sit in one position for more than an hour and take frequent stretch breaks. Do not bend forward to lift things up, bend the knees and hips for that. Also discontinue any strenuous activity or exercises for some time.
2. Low oxygen levels in muscles while lying down- frequent change in postures and XXXXXXX breathing will provide the relief.
3. Disc herniation or spinal canal stenosis- Can be diagnosed after investigations like MRI.
4. Weak core muscles-Strengthening the muscles that support the spine helps keep the spine in its proper position and reduce risk of sprains, strains and lower back pain. Maintain fitness with exercises that include back stretching and strengthening exercises under guidance of a physiotherapist. Avoid weight bearing exercises. Do only mild aerobics which does not put your back to strain. You can discuss about this with your Gym instructor.
A detailed examination by an orthopedician will help in detecting the exact cause. The treatment further depends on the cause.
The pins and needles sensation also seems to be related to position which causes compression of the nerve roots. Avoid sleeping with your arms over your head and use a thin pillow while resting. Doing some lifestyle modifications will relieve your symptoms. Taking methylcobalamin supplements will also be helpful.
I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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