December 04, 2023
How to deal with shoulder pain at night while trying to sleep?
I researched your query by examining various Reddit discussions and articles related to shoulder pain at night and ways to alleviate the discomfort. The suggestions provided come from users who have experienced similar issues and professionals offering advice in the field. There was a significant amount of consensus among the sources, with many people recommending similar solutions. However, it is important to note that each individual's situation may vary, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Have an opinion? Send us proposed edits/additions and we may incorporate them into this article with credit.
Sleeping Position Adjustments
"Considering the shoulder pain I've had a physical therapist suggest sleeping with a pillow between your arms so that your shoulders don't collapse while sleeping on your side. Been a big help for my rotator cuff pain. Hope you find some relief."
"Next, buy a bunch of pillows and try a "semi-side" sleep where you are halfway between side sleeping and sleeping on your stomach with your body propped up a bit with all those wonderful pillows you just bought. It takes pressure off your shoulder/labrum area."
"Try raising or lowering your pillow. You could also try removing a few slats near where your shoulder digs into the bed to make it more flexible (I've done this to my bed)"
"Try not putting your arm under your pillow (I know it is comfortable) and don't sleep facing the edge of the bed where your arms can hang off."
"Trained sidesleeping for years. Build my own hard pillow for the head. Two other pillow stabilize in front of my breast/ stomach and my legs. The upper body is to allow an minimal falling in the long pillow which is stabilzing in frint of my chest and stomach. The arm “under” my breast is going in a straight line along the long pillow. The “upper” arm goes over that pillow. Both arms pointing in the direction of the chest."
Exercises and Stretches
Heat and Cold Therapy
Over-the-counter Pain Relievers
Physical Therapy and Professional Help
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- Shoulder pain can be an indicator of many different conditions, and the appropriate treatment depends on the root cause of the pain.
- Pain in the shoulder at night can be especially disruptive to regular everyday activities such as getting enough sleep, as this constant pressure on the affected joint can cause chronic fatigue and other health problems over time.
- A study showed that 97% of people treated for shoulder injuries experienced noticeable pain improvement between 6-12 months from treatment.
- The most common causes of shoulder pain at night include rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, and frozen shoulder, among others.
- Rotator cuff injuries are typically the result of overuse or injury, and can involve tears in the tendons that connect the muscles in your shoulder to the bones.
- Treatment for rotator cuff injuries may include surgery or nonsurgical options such as exercise or physical therapy.
- Arthritis is a condition involving inflammation of the joints, typically resulting in ongoing pain and stiffness. To treat arthritis, doctors may recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or other effective prescription drugs to alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. Treatment may involve physiotherapy or medication, depending on the severity of the condition.
- There are several treatments, exercises, and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate shoulder pain at night.
- Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help alleviate pain.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen can also be effective.
- Resting and limiting activity that aggravates your pain might even help resolve the problem over time.
- Physical therapy can help alleviate shoulder pain by working on strengthening and stretching exercises specifically targeted to your condition.
- Exercises can include the pendulum stretch, cable external rotations, and many other techniques.
- Make sure to consult a healthcare professional to help determine what might be the root cause of the shoulder pain, and to get help with tailoring a treatment or exercise regimen specific to your needs.
"Slept on my shoulder wrong, now everything hurts"
- User on Reddit’s r/Fibromyalgia describes how she hurt her shoulder while sleeping which has caused new aches and pains all over, making it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep properly.
- Another user comments about how falling asleep in an awkward position while traveling for Thanksgiving caused a kink in their neck that took weeks to get over. This caused tension and soreness to spread down to their shoulders and back.
- A third user says they have a kink too and that they are planning to see a chiropractor to help relieve the pain.
- Another user suggests using a heating pad and doing stretches for shoulder pain. They recommend using a pillow under their knees to relieve tension on the back & sleeping on their back. They also suggest using the heating pad before stretching to relieve the pain.
- Another user suggests finding a video with stretches for shoulder pain on YouTube. They also mention that they have biceps tendonitis and suspect it was caused by sleeping on that side due to arthritis in their neck.
- One user fell, pushed a teenage girl’s car, gave herself a hip injury which is causing her pain on the entire left side of her body. They have Fibromyalgia and also have a pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Everyone who commented had some type of advice or suggestions to help the poster deal with their shoulder pain at night. These ranged from general advice to medical treatments like seeing a chiropractor.
"Shoulder pain from sleeping: Causes, remedies, and prevention"
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"Shoulder Pain at Night: Causes and What to Do - Sleep Advisor"
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"Shoulder Pain From Sleeping: Causes and How to Relieve It - LIVESTRONG.COM"
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- Nearly 70% of people will have shoulder pain at some point in their lives
- The most common cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendinitis or bursitis
- Sleeping position could worsen shoulder pain overnight
- Side-sleeping puts added weight and pressure on the shoulder, so sleep on non-injured side or on back
- Use a new pillow to support the preferred sleeping position
- An adjustable bed that allows you to sleep with your head elevated can help reduce stress on the shoulders
- Gentle stretches into morning routine can help boost blood flow to muscles and joints
- Specific shoulder stretches include pendulum stretch, shoulder rolls, tricep stretch, shoulder squeeze, and overhead stretch
- Proper posture can help keep shoulder muscles and tendons in correct position, reducing back and shoulder strength
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce inflammation and pain
- Shoulder pain not alleviated with injections or physical therapy, or seems to be getting worse, may require surgery to repair torn tissue or get rid of scar tissue
- Shoulder pain can also be caused by bone spurs, frozen shoulder, poor posture, overuse of nearby tendons, calcific tendonitis, spinal issues, avascular necrosis, and thoracic outlet syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling in the shoulder joints, which leads to pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis happens when the smooth outer covering of bones wears away.
- Hot and cold therapy can be used for shoulder pain
- Acupuncture can help reduce short-term shoulder pain and improve function
- Physical therapy can improve shoulder function, strength, flexibility, and range of motion
- Reconstruction or replacement surgery is an option for those who have serious damage to their shoulder joint, bone, or cartilage
- Shoulder pain is an indication that something is wrong and should be checked by a healthcare professional
- Shoulder pain can be remedied by switching up sleep position
- Shoulder pain that occurs or gets worse during sleep can usually be remedied by switching up your sleeping position.
- Adjusting your sleep position to avoid putting pressure on your sore side can help address shoulder pain
- People will typically avoid sleeping on the affected shoulder, as the pressure can make pain worse in most situations according to Dr. Russell S. Petrie, an orthopedic surgeon.
- Side sleepers may do well with a firm pillow that is plush enough to fill the space between their bed and head to keep the upper body in
"Any side sleepers experience pain in their hips/shoulders?"
- A Reddit user is experiencing pain in their hips/shoulders when they sleep on their side, despite having a great/soft mattress.
- They are sleeping with a pillow over their head to muffle noise in their apartment block, which may not allow them to switch sides during sleep, causing their hip pain.
- The user’s physiotherapist does not see any signs of bursitis or anything that might cause hip pain.
Other Reddit users suggest the following remedies to alleviate shoulder and hip pain caused by side-sleeping:
- Sleep with a pillow between arms to prevent shoulder pain/stress forward when side sleeping. (7 karma)
- Build a hard pillow for the head and use other pillows to stabilize stomach, breast, and legs during side-sleeping. (3 karma)
- Do exercises to strengthen the shoulder joint where it attaches to the labrum area. (5 karma)
- Try a “semi-side” sleep where you are halfway between side-sleeping and sleeping on your stomach with your body propped up a bit with pillows. (5 karma)
- Put pillows between your knees to alleviate hip stress while side-sleeping. (5 karma)
- Sleep on your back with pillows on each side to rest your lower arms if you experience shoulder pain.
Some Reddit users also report experiencing hip and/or lower back pain while side-sleeping.
- One Reddit user can’t even lay on their side for more than a few hours, but they try to switch sides if/when they wake up. (2 karma)
- Another Reddit user experiences hip pain that usually starts in the early morning hours and makes it hard to sleep further. (1 karma)
- One Reddit user reports experiencing jaw pain due to sleeping with their head elevated weirdly with a stiff pillow for two nights in a row.
"Slept on my shoulder, woke up with excruciating shoulder pain."
- One Reddit user, who has always slept on their side with their right arm outstretched underneath their pillow, woke up with excruciating shoulder pain.
- The user could not lift their arm above their head, had difficulty getting a packet of rice into the microwave, and was much weaker in the gym than usual.
- Only time the user didn’t feel the pain was when they raised their hand above their head.
- The user tried drugs, hot/cold showers, and a hot tub, but still felt painful.
- Another user suggested that the nerves were likely pressed against for an extended period, and the user should try stretching out their arm and avoid using it much.
- A third user had a similar experience and wanted to know how long it would last and how to get rid of it.
- The initial user responded that they experienced terrible pain for about two days, followed by an ache for one to two more days.
- The initial user had to use Tylenol and ibuprofen constantly, did arm stretches, like in their doorway and the Spiderman stretch, and spent a long time in a hot tub.
- The initial user shared that it was going to be painful and advised other users to be mindful of how they sleep to avoid experiencing it.
- Another user woke up with sharp pain in the shoulder and thought that they stretched it too much while sleeping on it.
- Other readers offered ideas, such as going to a doctor to check for rotator cuffs or sleeping without a pillow.
- One user suggested deciding how to rest during the day, avoiding overhead presses, not sleeping on the sore shoulder, and sleeping on your back.
- Some users had varying degrees of pain, and some had to stop going to the gym.
- One user had been in pain for four days, and another had been in pain for a month and had only 45% strength.
- A user had also experienced pain and loss of strength when doing push movements. Their pain returned any time they would push movement.
Note: While there is no specific advice on how to deal with shoulder pain at night, the webpage provides suggestions on how to deal with the pain during the day and to avoid engaging in activities that may exacerbate the injury.
"How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain | Dr. Pamela Mehta, San Jose"
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"A stretch greatly improved my shoulder impingement"
- OP of the post on r/bodyweightfitness is on a journey to fix their shoulder impingement and suggests a stretch that greatly improved their condition.
- OP suggests that the shoulder is a complex joint, and there are different types of shoulder impingement and what worked for OP may not work for everyone.
- Traditional rehab protocol includes stretching pecs and lats and strengthening rotator cuff muscles, mid-low traps, and serratus anterior. If daring, passive hanging can also help.
- Before finding the perfect stretch, OP did all these exercises but something was still off.
- OP found that their lats and teres were pretty tight, but they could not find a good lats stretch that was not risky for their shoulders.
- Found the stretch suggested by Athlean-X in a YouTube video where the grip height was not ideal for OP.
- The perfect height for OP was raising and gripping the hand at eye level which made all the difference in the world and felt an instant relief.
- Some Reddit users also recommend doing pull-ups with complete range of motion as it fixed every shoulder issue they had, from impingement in the front to flexibility when reaching above shoulder to bad posture and overstimulated minor pec muscles.
- User explains tonic minor pecs is basically when minor pec muscles are tightened and shortened and pulling the shoulder forward.
- User recommends doing chin-ups instead of pull-ups if doing pull-ups are painful.
- For pull-ups, it’s important to control the movement and not just collapse down into a hang because it may cause harm. It’s also important to focus on proper technique, take it slowly, activate the necessary muscles, and maintain a neutral spine position.
- Another user recommends supersetting band pull-aparts and facepulls to fix shoulder impingement.
- A user found that crab walk stretched the front of their shoulders and helped with their nagging shoulder pain that minor repairs and rest did not fix.
- Nobody mentions specific remedies for shoulder pain at night while trying to sleep.
"How do I reduce shoulder pain when sleeping on the side?"
- A Reddit user wrote a post asking how to reduce shoulder pain when sleeping on the side
- The post is from 6 years ago and has 8 points when the snippet was captured
- The pain is described as discomfort after a few hours of sleep that starts in the shoulder
- The user mentions trying to switch sides to relieve the pain
- The user notes that they can’t sleep on their back
Several people in the comments offer suggestions, including:
- Raising or lowering the pillow to adjust the height (2 karma)
- Removing a few slats from the bed to make it more flexible (1 karma)
- Not putting the arm under the pillow and avoiding sleeping near the edge of the bed (1 karma)
- Experimenting with positions and angles using pillows for support (1 karma)
- Considering a special orthopedic mattress topper or mattress designed for side sleepers (1 karma)
- A Reddit user suggests a certain type of mattress for side sleepers, linking to an external page with recommendations (1 karma)
- The external page suggests several specific mattresses as well as mattress toppers for side sleepers, with brief descriptions and ratings based on firmness, support, and other factors
- The author of the page also provides general tips for choosing a mattress, including suggested firmness levels for different sleeping positions and explanations of different mattress types such as memory foam and innerspring
- The page offers additional resources for learning about mattresses and sleep, including links to related articles and videos and a quiz to help readers find the right mattress for them
- The page features several ads for mattresses and mattress brands, with brief descriptions and links to external pages
- The page has a contact form for readers to submit questions or feedback to the author, as well as a comment section where readers can share their own experiences or ask additional questions
"3 Frozen Shoulder Exercises to Relieve Pain - Cleveland Clinic Health ..."
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"How To Relieve Rotator Cuff Pain at Night - Cleveland Clinic Health ..."
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