Shoulder pain that develops at night while you’re sleeping can be a frustrating and sleep-depriving problem. Orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist, Dr. Ryan Tibbetts, says shoulder pain at night is more common than you might think. “One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is that their shoulder pain keeps them up at night,” says Dr. Tibbetts.
There are numerous causes of shoulder pain, so getting to the bottom of what could be triggering the pain is the first place to start.
Top 5 Causes of Shoulder Pain at Night
Dr. Tibbetts explains that shoulder pain at night can be caused by sleeping in an awkward position or it can also mean you’re dealing with a more serious shoulder condition.
Some of the most common causes of shoulder pain are:
- Sleeping on your shoulder, which can sometimes cause it to become uncomfortable or feeling numb or tingling.
- Tendonitis, or inflammation of tendons in your arm and shoulder.
- Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursae that cushion the joints in your body, including your shoulders and elbows.
- Rotator cuff injuries, damage to one of the four tendons that make up the rotator cuff can cause swelling, inflammation and pain in the shoulder.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or other underlying conditions that affect the joints.
How to Relieve Nightly Shoulder Pain at Home
Fortunately, mild to moderate shoulder pain at night can often be relieved or treated at home. Before you visit a doctor, Dr. Tibbetts recommends:
- Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Hot or cold therapy on injuries or flare-ups of conditions like arthritis before bedtime.
- Stretching in the mornings and evenings to maintain flexibility and relieve tension.
- Different pillows to help position your body more comfortably while you sleep.
- Modifying activities that may contribute to shoulder pain or overuse.
When to See a Doctor
If your nightly shoulder pain persists or gets worse, consult a shoulder specialist to investigate the cause of your shoulder pain and create a customized treatment plan. A proper physical exam and imaging such as an x-ray or MRI can help determine the source of your shoulder pain. Dr. Tibbetts says once a diagnosis has been made, non-surgical treatments may include activity modification, physical therapy or a cortisone injection to help decrease inflammation and ease pain. If severe pain persists, shoulder surgery may be recommended.
If you suffer from shoulder pain at night, call our office today at (512) 439-1001 to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons.