How to sleep with intercostal muscle strain

How to sleep with intercostal muscle strain

A few weeks ago, I pulled something while sleeping and woke up with intercostal muscle strain, also known as pain in your rib cage, on my left side. After several nights of trying to sleep through the pain, I decided that it was time to see if there was anything I could do about it. Intercostal muscle strain can be painful, especially when you lie down or twist in certain ways, and it can disrupt your sleep even more than typical back pain will.

What is Intercostal Muscle Strain?

The intercostal muscles are the muscles that connect your ribs to your spine. If you have an injury in this area, it can cause pain and stiffness when you try to move. It's possible for the pain to radiate down into the chest or up into the neck or head. You may also experience problems breathing deeply, coughing or taking a deep breath.

What are you sleeping on?

It is vital that you find the best mattress for you. A mattress should not be too hard, but it also shouldn't be too soft. In general, a medium-firm mattress will work well for most people. If you prefer a softer or more firm feel, then look for a mattress that suits your preference. 

If you don't like the hardness of your bed, try adding a thin layer of memory foam or latex topper on top of your existing bedding. These products are made from materials that have been designed specifically to soften up bed surfaces and make them more comfortable when lying on them. They won't affect the quality or integrity of your existing mattresses either so this is an excellent way to customize your sleeping experience without having to buy an entirely new product.

Sleep Positions To Avoid

-Sleeping on your back: Sleeping on your back will put pressure on your chest and can worsen the pain. -Sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can exacerbate the tightness in the muscles in your ribs and make breathing difficult.

-Sleeping on your side: Slight pressure from pillows or blankets will not be enough to worsen the pain. -Laying diagonally across a mattress: Laying diagonally across a mattress is risky because it can aggravate shoulder and neck pain, as well as other musculoskeletal injuries.

*If you have intercostal muscle strain, you should avoid sleeping in any of these positions.*

Improve Sleep Hygiene With These Strategies

Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do for your health. And if you're suffering from a case of intercostal muscle strain, it can be even more important than usual. Intercostal muscle strains are caused by overexertion or overuse of the muscles in between your ribs that help with breathing and support your upper torso. When these muscles become inflamed, they can cause pain when trying to breathe deeply or cough, as well as limit range of motion in your chest. This will make it difficult to lie down and get comfortable on your back or side, so what should you do?

Alternative Positions For Sleeping

Sleeping on your back can cause pain in the chest and may make it hard for you to breathe. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position. In this position, the weight of your body will be pressing down onto your lower ribs, which can lead to painful spasms or even break some ribs. Sleeping on either side is better than sleeping on your stomach or back, but it's not perfect. Side sleeping puts pressure and weight onto the ribcage that isn't distributed evenly between both sides of the body. The more weight you put onto one side of your body when you're lying down, the more likely it is that you'll start feeling pain in that area while you're sleeping.

Conclusions & Resources

  1. Lay on your side as much as possible and avoid turning over in bed. Sleeping on your back will worsen the pain because your ribcage will compress the muscles that are strained.
  2. Apply heat or ice depending on what is more comfortable for you (never apply ice directly to the skin). Ice should be applied every few hours and heat every 3-4 hours, but only for 15 minutes each time. 
  3. Take ibuprofen (if you are not allergic) or naproxen sodium every 6-8 hours to relieve inflammation and pain, but do not take more than 1,200 mg a day of ibuprofen or 500 mg a day of naproxen sodium unless instructed by your physician.
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