How to Sleep With Shoulder Pain
Sleeping with shoulder pain is as unpleasant as sleeping with an ear infection, or any discomfort from any region of your body. Luckily, there's a solution to this kind of problem. So, if you're looking for info on sleeping with shoulder pain, maybe for a friend, a family member, or yourself, you're in the right place.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
Rotator cuff tendinitis is among the most common cause of shoulder pains in addition to several other conditions. Rotator cuff tendinitis is a condition identified by swollen tendons. Another prevalent cause is shoulder impingement syndrome.
It's a shoulder pain condition characterized by the rotator cuff getting caught on the humeral head and the acromion. Shoulder pain can also be caused by an unrelated injury in a different part of the body usually on the upper body part. Usually, the shoulder might emanate from the biceps or the neck.
Remember that shoulder pain can be extended or short-term, associated with other complications such as rheumatism or osteoarthritis. However, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are at more risk of having shoulder pain due to swelling.
Other causes of shoulder pains are;
- Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis
- Tearing of the rotator cuff muscles on your upper arm bone
- Shoulder arthritis
- Shoulder impingement
Alternatively, pain in the shoulders during sleep can be caused by varied conditions depending on your sleep positions and patterns.
Some of these causes are;
- Direct mattress pressure on the shoulder occurs if you're sleeping on your side over extended periods
- Sleeping with your arm in an unstable condition or sleeping with your arm across your body
- Use of shoulders for daily activities as a result of the strain of joints and muscles alongside fatigue
- Inflammation and irritation of shoulder tendons and bursa from regular shoulder use on daily activities
What to Do Before Going to Bed
Some of the things you're supposed to do before retiring to bed are;
Taking pain medication such as ibuprofen as prescribed by your doctor
During the day, consider using an ice pack on the affected shoulder
Take natural supplements for muscle cramp and inflammation, e.g., magnesium and turmeric
Avoid subjecting your shoulder to strenuous movements, i.e., rest your shoulder as much as possible.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Shoulder pain is something that you can handle yourself without the help of a doctor. However, there are moments when it's essential to seek medical help. If you've followed the proper home treatment routine and two weeks you're still in pain, you should see a doctor.
Other conditions accentuated with shoulder pain are if you're;
- Unable to move your shoulder
- Experiencing heat and sensitivity around the joint region
- Experiencing fever
- If the pain exceeds after home treatment, instead of subsiding, subside
Sleeping Positions for Shoulder Pains
Learning the best sleeping positions is a significant step in identifying the proper sleep comfort. So, adopting a comfortable sleep will go a long way in ensuring you get a good night's sleep. It's worth noting that these sleeping positions are also ideal for people with shoulder impingement syndrome. Conclusively the more comfortable sleeping positions you prefer the better.
Sleeping On Your Side
Sleeping in this position relieves neck and shoulder pain by aligning the hips and the spine. For shoulder pain, consider laying on the opposite side of the aching shoulder. However, laying on the affected shoulder can cause inefficient blood flow and slow down the healing process. Also, the pressure applied on the shoulder might cause damage to the shoulder joint alongside the tendons.
Additionally, it'd be best to try tucking the pillow under your arm or hugging it; this reduces the pain by opening up your shoulder. So, if you want to relieve both neck and shoulder pain, this is the ideal sleeping position.
Sleeping On Your Back
Back sleeping is the most recommended sleeping position for a majority of any body pain, e.g., shoulder pains. However, it can also be ideal for injuries associated with pains such as rotator cuff pain. There's an even distribution of your body weight. n this position, hence maintenance of your spine's natural curve.
For additional comfort, consider tucking a rolled towel or a pillow under your knees. It will significantly help with spine alignment preventing lower back pain.
Keep your arms under your head to relieve pressure from your shoulder ligaments and muscles when laying on the bed. If you're nursing rotator cuff injuries, place a small pillow or a rolled towel in between your shoulder blades to separate one shoulder blade from the other.
How to Find a Comfortable Way to Sleep
Finding comfortable sleep with a shoulder condition such as this might be challenging at times. In your search for a better sleeping position, you might also develop a frozen shoulder. Some of the tips you can adopt for comfortable sleep are outlined below.
- Breathe deeply and gently immediately when you lie down
- Relieve pressure from your spine by placing a pillow behind your thigh or between your legs when lying on your side
- Lie on your side but ensure using a pillow to support your shoulder and another one for your neck
Prevention of Shoulder Pain
Shoulder exercises can aid in strengthening and stretching the shoulder muscles along with the rotator cuff tendons. It's good to do simple shoulder exercise routines, but it will be better if you seek help from an occupational or physical therapist. That
Since you have a shoulder injury, it is less likely that you'll be doing these exercises on your own properly. So, that's why you need a physical therapist. To keep yourself from developing frozen shoulder, perform different simple motion exercises daily.
Shoulder Stretching Exercises That Might Help With the Pain
When asleep during the night, you'll most likely experience shoulder pains, which will disrupt your sleep. So, to ensure you get a good night's sleep, below are some of the stretches to do to reduce the pain.
Shoulder rolls: Begin by rolling your shoulders forward in a neutral position 5 to 10 times and the same backward. Ensure to keep the movements short and easy.
Shoulder shrugs: Begin by moving your shoulders to your ears and then lowering them back. Maintain steady breaths and when doing the lungs, avoid exerting muscle activation. Repeat these 5 to 10 times.
Thread and needle: Start on both your hands on knees on the floors. Thread your left hand behind your right hand and also infront of your left knee. Your upper back should rotate as you turn your body to thread the needle.
Note that if the stretching exercises cause more pain or intensify your shoulder pain symptoms, you should stop immediately. Continued period of stretching will cause you to experience shoulder pain more intensely.
Additionally,you might be at risk of developing shoulder impingement syndrome as a result of tendons being pressed by your bone.
Additional Tips for Sleeping With Shoulder Pain
Having additional tips may come in handy if you want to achieve a quick recovery. As much as the effectiveness of the already mentioned tips is viable, the tips below are also practical.
Get a Good Night's Sleep
To ensure you're not compromising your ability to get a good night sleep, ensure you don't;
- Stay late while glued on your computer or phone
- Drink coffee in the evenings
- Take alcohol
Lack of enough sleep can make it difficult for your body to release cytokines which aid in the healing process of shoulder or rotator cuff injuries. And also decrease intense levels at which you experience shoulder pain. You should know that both alcohol and coffee are stimulants. So, consuming them before going to sleep will make you stay awake past your sleep time.
In the long run, it will most likely interfere with your circadian rhythm. On the other hand, light from the screen of your electronic gadgets consists of blue light that will keep you awake for more extended periods.
Invest In a Good Firm Mattress
You might think that plunging yourself into a deep soft mattress will do the trick of handling your shoulder pain. The truth is a good, firm, spacious mattress is what is ideal for your shoulder pain.
When looking for the right kind of firm mattress, consider opting for those with medium to a highly firm mattress. If you can't afford such a mattress at the moment, you can put pieces of plywood under your current mattress.
If you're ready to make the investment, check out our current favorite mattress for pain relief, especially for athletes, SleepOvation. This unique "700 mattresses in one" design cradles the different parts of your body uniquely to help relieve pain.
Ditch Your Pillows for New Ones
If you're still waking up with persistent shoulder pain even after following home care routines, the problem might be with your pillows. As much as you feel a sense of comfort due to attachment to your pillow, keeping it will do you more harm than good.
If your preferred sleeping position is on your side, you should get yourself a firm and thicker pillow. However, if you're a stomach sleeper, get a thinner pillow, but ideally, you shouldn't use any pillow since you risk developing back pains. Thinner pillows also go for back sleeping.
Don't Hesitate to Seek Medical Advice
As previously said, sleeping with shoulder pain is an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience. Hopefully, this article sheds some light on everything you need to know about shoulder pain. One fundamental thing, though, is to know when to see a doctor.
Gabe is the newest member of The Sleep Shop team. If you like the design of The Sleep Shop, give Gabe a thumbs up. He’s a digital marketing and design guru and the brains behind the design and SEO of The Sleep Shop. He also won’t say no to testing a ton of mattresses either, and helps on almost every mattress review.