Neck Problems - Wanting to know how best to sleep with c6 nerve impingement

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Dear Friends,

I'd be the first to say that I was not an expert in ANY of this. NOT AT ALL. In fact, sitting here, I just feel lost. 

I have had neck problems - well, foraminal stenosis - since 2012 - indeed probably before but that was when I became aware of it.  At first I had all kinds of things going on - electric shocks, numbness, one attack with clawing pain down the right and left arms and in both thighs.  I eventually had an MRI done and it showed my neck was the culprit.  I waited some months and things seem to get better ... I was fine ... up until a few weeks ago.

I was then sitting at my desk and had a major shock in my right elbow ... and then - shortly after - in my right shoulder.  These were momentary - but very noticable with pain.  Then I had some tingling - well, a crawling sensation - over my right hand.  That passed.  I thought I sensed a weakness in my right arm ... certainly muscle tightness ... but that seems to come and go.  I have little of what I would term 'pain' blessedly.  In no way am I crying out in agony.

My problem is sleeping.  I have tried everything - (I have long used a cervical pillow) - but cannot seem to sleep without waking up with some limb numbness - usually in my hands.  During the day I often feel a tingling at the back of left shoulder - but that is very mild and really does not trouble me.  On waking the limbs come to quickly but this actual happening is causing me some concern.  

I attach my latest MRI report (received this week).  I wondered if anyone who has a similar condition might let me know how they successfully manage to sleep - position, etc.  I have now taken to just using a rolled up towel and no pillow.  Still, I find myself frightened to go to bed (although I have no trouble falling asleep) lest I do more damage.  

Can you help this 60 year old Caucasian male? I would be ever so grateful if you could. 

MY GP (I live in the UK) at my local surgery signed off on the MRI (I had it done privately)  When. I called to follow up all he said was that I was 'like his old boot, just wearing out'. He asked me 'if I could still write?' .. I said I could. That was about the extent of the conversation. I asked for some physiotherapy. He said in his experience it did very little good. 

This telephone consultation I fear I did not feel very helpful. Certainly I came away no wiser about the report than when I went in. 

Honestly I don't know where to turn with this - or what to do - and I very much want to DO something. Thus I am coming to you. Bless you for being here.

I transcribe the MRI report immediately below: - 

MRI scan of the cervical spine.

Comparison is made with the previous study.

On the previous scan, at C3/C4 there was left-sided foraminal narrowing.

At C4/5 and C5/6 level there was bilateral foraminal narrowing more prominent on the left side.

On the current scan at C5/6 there is bilateral foraminal narrowing - this is now more prominent on the right side with impingement of the exiting nerve roots in the right side at this level as well as mild impingement of the left sided exiting nerve root.

The findings at C3/C4 and C4/5 are unchanged since the previous study.

The cord returns normal signal throughout and the craniocervical junction is normal in appearance.


Since the previous scan at the C5/6 level there is bilateral foraminal narrowing more prominent on the right side with impingement of the exiting nerve root seen on the right side at this level as well as mild impingement on the left side.

The findings at C4/5 and C3/4 are unchanged with mild impingement of the exiting nerve root on the left side.

Can someone read between these lines for this poor fool who is unclear as to what explicitly is being said?  I find it hard to know how this change happened - the report isn't clear short of noting an impingement.  I have I promise been very careful and not been involved in any noticable incident that I am aware of which would alter my status.  

If someone could advise on the sleeping position for a person with C6 nerve impingement I will be eternally grateful.  (I do realise that I'm not going to die from this.  I don't mean to sound hysterical.)  

Bless you for your patience and kind understanding. Please know each and ALL are hugely appreciated.

Bless you BIG TIME. 


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21 Replies

  • Posted

    I had a disc replacement and fusion at C5-6 last year and must have tried 7 or 8 pillows. The firm one is the best. I lie on a hot pad before I go to sleep for about 20 minutes and then I spray on Magnesium oil and rub it in. (I put a towel over the pillow to protect it). This works for me. If the moderator takes out the brand name, please send me an e-mail privately.  Best wishes,


    PS The scan seems to imply that the canal is narrowed so there is pressure on the nerve which is why you are getting the pain. I had exactly the same thing at C5 and C6

    Emis Moderator comment: I have removed product/company names as we do not allow repeated posting of these in the forums. If users wish to exchange these details please use the Private Message service.

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  • Posted

    Hi meunier58121, yeah i know what you are talking about,,,

    simple explained its wear and tear , comes with the age

    The nerve which runs through the spine and going down the shoulder, arms is squizzed due to the narrowing of the " cushion " between the spine bones ( i try to explain it simple )

    I have very similar problem, i cannot lay down without everything is spinning ,dizziness due to the Spondylitis what i have ( check out on Google ),

    What you could try is Acupunture which helps a lot but you need to find a good one !!!

    Numbness on hands, fingers i also had in the past all comes from the neck

    Numbness on your arms/fingers could also come from stiff muscles on your neck which are also pressing on the nerves

    Hope this will help you a bit

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  • Posted

    Hi meunier58121,

    I ended up sleeping on my back with pillows to the left and right of my head, so that I did not move through the night. No matter what medication I was put on the agonising pain would not go away, I was so desperate that if a leprachaun had told me to stick carrots in my ears and cow much up my nose I would have tried it. You say you do not have bad pain at thr moment, I hope that stays that way for you.

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  • Posted

    Thanks babanuki and Mike0953.  Your input is much appreciated.

    Babanuki, I will try the accupunture.  I would love to find a 'good one'.  Don't know if you are in London, but IF you are do you have a suggestion of one that worked for you?  If so, grateful if you could send me a private message.  Bless you.

    Hi Mike - Yes, I'm still relatively pain free and would like to stay that way for as long as possible.  I'm trying to be optimistic - at least for the moment.  (Stress of  course is a big killer.)  I will try your suggestion with the two pillows.  Bless you for this.  

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  • Posted

    Oh, MIke - Just a quick question - and I know that everyone is different ... but did you have bouts of numbness/tingling ... and muscle tightness BEFORE the pain set in for you ... or did the pain come straight away.

    It seems an expiring mind needs to know smile 

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  • Posted

    Hi meunier58121,

    I fell off a ladder August 2011, hit the rhs of my head against a wall, which pushed my neck over to the left. I had immediate loss of strength in my left arm and shohlder, but the pain was mostly in my right foot which took all my weight when landing. To cut a very longstory short over the next 18 months I had mris', xrays , nerve tests and ct scans. Eventually I was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis with myolepathy at c4,5,6 and 7. C6 and C7 being the biggest culprit. Betweeb these dates and times I was looked on as a time waster, shirker and insurance fraud as I was passed from one gp to another and more "specialiststs" than Jesus had deciples. When the cervical problems were found it was to late to put right and I was only given a 50% chance of any improvement. Now to the symptoms: severe tingling in the arms, hands and fingers with numbness and jerking in the hands, a "fiziness" in my arms and legs and extreme, agonising pain in my neck shoulders and upper arms. This was put up with for 15 months on numerous medications before the correct pain management was found.

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    • Posted

      its wear and tear mike

      Cervical spondylosis with cervical myelopathy, commonly referred to as cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), refers to impaired function of the spinal cord caused by degenerative changes of the discs and facet joints in the cervical spine (neck).

      This has nothing to do with your fall,,, i have the same condition,,, ARTHRITIS needs to be treated,,, Acupuncture would help you as i sai earlier,,,, ...

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    • Posted

      Mike, i go to sleep and the whole room is spinning due to my compressed nerve on my neck

      I just pray everyday that i get help

      I know how you feel

      Tell me, did you do heavy work all the years ( lifting stuff ) ,this is how I got the problem

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    • Posted

      wrote this 8 days ago and nobody read it ,you see we are sitting in the same boat

      Cervical Spondylosis with dizzinessPosted 8 days agoHi all of you

      I am new here and wonder if somebody has the same problem as me

      I was diagnosed with Cervical Spondylosis ( i can manage it ) BUT what makes me concern is the ongoing dizziness as soon as I look up or lay down,, looks like compression of the artery on my neck

      Any body out there who has the same and if,,, what can I do to stop this dizziness


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    • Posted

      Your dizziness could be associated with vertebral artery compression as a result of a prolapsed disc. This can make you very dizzy. It can also cause a drop attack, a symptom caused by myelopathy. Have you told your doctor about this? There are lots of people suffering with dizziness and drop attacks from compression of the neck (spondylosis) in the facebook group come and have a chat with them. Have you had any recent MRI scans?
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    • Posted

      Hi steve36143, sorry just now i saw your comment, yeah i have a prolapsed disc,,, makes sence the dizziziness  and no i am not going to a doctor because where I am , doctors are not excactly  good when it comes to speak to their patience

      I trust only my Acupunture guy who knows more than any doctor I ever visited in the past

      After all this week with dizziness ( only when i look up or lay down ) and with support of my friends i accepted the faith and have to change my lifestyle a bit and going back to Acupunture , he told me he can ease the dizziness ... lets see


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  • Posted

    Oh, dear, Mike ... That sounds truly horrific .... and I can completely understand getting lost in the system.  How are you now?  More stable and less pain ridden I pray.  

    I once found myself next to Andrew Lansley at a Number 10 reception (for nothing to do with health as it happens) ... and I asked him one question:  'What do people who who can't fight?'  He replied in one word:  'Perish'.  'You must be very proud of that,' I said.  

    Bless you, Mike, for fighting the fight on behalf of us all. 

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  • Posted

    Hi babanuki,

    For all the diagnosis that I have had concerning my cervical problems, you are absolutely correct to put it down to wear and tear, I was in the building trade for over 40 years, the point being that I was coping perfectly well with c/s until the fall which caused my vertabrae to become misaligned hence the osteophytes at level c4,5,6 and 7 pushed into my spinal cord and could cause full paralyses if I fall or lift my arms above shoulder level, trapping the cord. Not my words butthe words of my Neurosurgeon who monitors my decline with mris'.

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    • Posted

      Oh I see, just read an article about the "11Symptoms of warning that your Spine is in trouble ",,, well i am also in cry ( found it on the Internet )

      Sorry I wish i could help you more , i know Chiropractic can do a lot of wonderful thing to your Spine ,,,BUT YOU NEED TO FIND A VERY VERY GOOD ONE

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