Shoulder pain: Causes, Symptoms & Pain Relief
Why do I have shoulder pain after sleeping?
Types of shoulder pain after sleeping
Although shoulders can be damaged in a variety of ways, many suffer from shoulder pain after they wake up from sleeping. The pain is relatively minor, usually affecting a small part of the joint, and will only last for a short time. Some key causes for experiencing shoulder pain when you wake up are:
Osteoarthritis – Commonly caused by sleeping on your side for a prolonged period of time. Which can cause cartilage in your shoulder to breakdown, leading to stiffness, painful clicking and pain that worsens when moving.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis / Tendinosis – Commonly caused by maintaining your shoulder in a position where the rotator cuff tendons are pinched, often by sleeping on your arm. This can lead to a breakdown of these tendons and can affect the resiliency of soft tissue.
Scapular Dyskinesis – Commonly caused by an injury or from a condition that weakens your muscles and causes the position of your scapula to change. Leading to difficulties in arm movement and can lead to further injuries down the line.
Frozen Shoulder – Commonly caused when your arm and shoulder are immobilized for a prolonged period of time such as sleeping, making the tissues in the shoulder tighten and thicken. Leading to stiffness in the shoulder joint, joint pain, and a reduced range of motion.
Shoulder pain after sleeping can be reduced by changing your common sleep position and through an increase in exercise when you wake up.
Stretches to ease shoulder pain when you wake-up
When dealing with any kind of pain, medical professionals advice the importance of staying active. When waking up with shoulder pain, stretching, and introducing subtle movements can prevent the shoulder from stiffening up. What follows are two very gentle stretches to ease shoulder pain, only do them if your level of pain allows.
Cross-reach stretch: Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow and move it across your body. Hold this position for up to 20 seconds if possible.
Pendulum stretch: Relax your shoulder, stand up, and lean over slightly with your affected arm hanging gently down. Begin to swing the arm gently in a small circle, try 10 times each way.
Support to reduce shoulder pain after sleeping
Depending on the level and longevity of the shoulder pain your experiencing, different shoulder pain support options are available.
Acute shoulder pain usually settles down quickly with the right treatment and many of these treatments can be applied at home.
- Ice / Heat – When shoulder pain starts, try applying ice or a hot water bottle when you wake up.
- Painkillers – Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen are a proven way to reduce swelling and pain in the joint.
- Working on your sleep posture – Sleeping on your back means your lying in a neutral position, which proves best for a shoulder impingement. Using a memory foam mattress can also be beneficial, as it arches to the shape of your body.
Chronic pain in your shoulder can be more difficult to treat because there are other issues. Contact your GP who will be advise you on some of the more serious treatment options below.
- Physiotherapy – A physiotherapist will be able to give you tailored exercises and stretching techniques to increase movement and reduce your pain.
- Occupational therapy – An occupational therapist will be able to give advice on how to make lasting changes to the way you do things, which will reduce the strain on your shoulder.
- Steroid injections – Steroids given in the form of injections with a local anaesthetic will reduce inflammation and help ease pain quickly, although this is a short-term solution.
- Surgery – Most shoulder pain improves without surgery, but in very severe cases e.g. a shoulder replacement, it has positive effects.
Treating Shoulder Pain After Sleeping
With the possible causes outlined above to answer your question “why do I have shoulder pain after sleeping”, you’ll now be looking for pain relief options. Most forms of shoulder pain can be treated at home and pain relief should start occur within a few days.
Shoulder pain can be lessened by changing your sleep position, introducing morning stretches, using painkillers, and of course using our BioWaveGO, 100% drug-free pain relief.
Consult your doctor if your shoulder pain is severe; you have a prolonged inability to move your shoulder/arm; or show no improvement after a few weeks.