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Best Sleeping Position For Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be caused by many different reasons – and it can affect how we function during the day, how we move around, our ability to drive, sit at a desk, carry bags/shopping/kids, cook, and of course sleep at night.

The most common causes of shoulder pain can include:

Shoulder impingement

Shoulder Bursitis

Tendonitis in the shoulder muscles (Rotator Cuff Muscles)

Rotator cuff muscle tears

Frozen shoulder

Arthritis in the shoulder

Referred pain from the neck to the shoulder

Night pain in the shoulder can be due to several reasons that may include:

Fatigue and strain of the muscles and joints from use of the shoulder during the day in “normal” daily activities.

Irritation and inflammation of the bursa and tendons from “normal” shoulder use during the day.

Direct pressure of the mattress on the shoulder when lying on your symptomatic/problem side, especially when you have been asleep and not moving for an extended amount of time compressing the structures of the shoulder.

Sleeping on the non affected shoulder causes the affected/painful shoulder to be unstable and unsupported, as the ball of the shoulder doesn’t sit properly in the socket – causing further impingement, muscle spasm and pain.

Sleeping with your arm above your head, across your body or in an altered unstable position can also cause pain and instability.

So if your shoulder hurts, what is the best way to sleep??

Resting your shoulder as much as possible and avoid aggravating movements such as reaching across your body, over your head, or carrying too much shopping during the day, to avoid it being overly inflamed at night time.

Using a cold pack on the shoulder on and off during the day and before you go to bed to decrease local inflammation.

Taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Taking natural supplements such as magnesium for muscle spasm/cramping and tumeric for inflammation.

Doing some gentle stretches and movements before you get into bed to help mobilise the shoulder.

When you are in bed.

Use props to help support your shoulder, head and neck –

If you sleep on your non-painful side, hug a pillow in front of you. This will help prevent the affected shoulder slumping forwards too much and compressing the structures in the shoulder. It also helps stabilise the shoulder joint as well.

Place a pillow or rolled towel behind you to help prevent you from rolling to a position which may be a lot more uncomfortable for your shoulder while you are in a deep sleep.

If you sleep on your back, place a pillow or towel under your elbow on the affected side to help lift the elbow which then places the ball and socket joint of the shoulder in a much more supported anatomical position and helps prevent strain on the muscles, ligaments, bursae and joint structures of the shoulder.

Try and avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Use comfortable pillows to make sure your neck is supported well enough which helps take strain off the affected shoulder.

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