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Can sleeping cause pain? Part One: The Shoulder

Yes, sleeping in a “bad” position can cause you to have pain. Here are some shoulder positions that could contribute to pain and also recommended solutions that could help prevent pain and help with the healing process.

1. Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Many patients have pain in the shoulder when they sleep. One of the most common complaints for patients with shoulder pain is the inability to sleep on the effected side.

There are some common positions that can contribute to shoulder pain. For example, sleeping with the arm in the overhead position. This could lead to impingement of the shoulder muscles. Another position would be sleeping with arm under the pillow while on your stomach. Both of these positions can chronically impinge the rotator cuff (shoulder muscles).

Here are some examples- minus the PJ’s- that could cause shoulder pain.

Solution: Avoid sleeping on the affected side. Consider sleeping supine(on your back) , or with the affected side up, placing a pillow or towel between the arm and body for support and to minimize the effects of traction ischemia. If you have trouble sleeping on the opposite side of the pain you could sleep with something (pillow or towel) between you and the bed. See below for examples.

A towel can be used under the effected arm. It can be adjust to various size.
Using the towel under the rib cage help takes pressure off the shoulder. Adjusting the towel size can help you find a more comfortable postion

Some of you might be thinking ‘I’ve slept in this position my whole life and I have no problems.’ That’s great and you might never get shoulder pain from these positions!

Like always, one size does not fit all but if you do have problems the above advice could help with healing faster.

If you’re experiencing pain in your shoulder or need help with sleeping positions please call the office and make an appointment. We can help!

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