How You Should Sleep to Relieve Shoulder Pain

Are you one of the millions of Americans who suffer from some type of shoulder or neck pain every year? Believe it or not, this type of pain could have a lot to do with the way you sleep!

Almost all of us have had the unsettling sensation of waking up with sudden, jolting neck or shoulder pain out of nowhere. Luckily, most of the time, this type of pain is nothing too major. But, it can be very disconcerting, painful, and can limit your entire range of motion quite a bit.

There can be instances where shoulder pain caused by sleep is a more major concern. Think you might be dealing with chronic neck and shoulder pain from sleeping wrong? Let’s help you understand the causes of this issue more and give you some tips to help reduce its recurrence.

Why does sleeping on our sides cause shoulder pain?

While we rely on our shoulders quite a bit, they also happen to be quite prone to injury. This is primarily because our shoulders are one of the two different ball-and-socket joints that are found in our body (the other being the hips). While this type of joints allows for a great range of motion, it can become easily misaligned and injured. The typical part of the shoulder that gets damaged by sleeping on our sides is the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a collection of tendons and muscles that stabilize and surround the shoulder joint. This means the rotator cuff does quite a bit of work as a result of the shoulder’s extremely mobile nature.

While doing this work, the rotator cuff can sustain damage through acute injuries or chronic overuse through repetitive motions and stresses. The consistent, nightly pressure of sleeping on a particular shoulder repeatedly can cause overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tendinitis over time.

What is rotator cuff tendinitis?

This condition (also known as shoulder impingement syndrome) is characterized by the rotator cuff’s tendons becoming frayed and inflamed due to repeated pressure against the bone. Symptoms usually start with some mild stiffness and pain.

However, this condition can advance rapidly and make certain motions with the affected shoulder and arm almost impossible. Pain from rotator cuff tendinitis is usually felt around the front of the shoulder. It can extend all the way down to the affected arm’s elbow.

What is the best sleeping position for shoulder pain?

The best sleeping position to avoid shoulder pain is sleeping flat on your back. This position puts the least amount of stress on either shoulder during the long night hours. Many of us have become far more comfortable sleeping on our sides by practicing bad sleeping habits for most of our lives.

If sleeping on your back proves to be extremely uncomfortable at first or you simply can’t stop laying on your side, just make sure to try to alternate the side you sleep on as much as possible to offset any potential shoulder strain. Obviously, if you have a shoulder that is already problematic, avoid sleeping on that side.

Now you know what causes shoulder pain from sleeping on side positions, and how to avoid it. If these above tips don’t seem to help your shoulder or neck pain much, please seek help!

Give us a call at Fix24 Joint Biomechanics! We excel at diagnosing and treating a variety of different shoulder and neck conditions. Set up an appointment with our clinic in Scottsdale today, by calling 480-757-3361! Let’s work to eliminate your shoulder and neck pain together!


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