Sleep-Related Shoulder and Neck Pain and How to Handle the Problem
Does sleeping on your side cause discomfort? If so, you may be experiencing shoulder pain caused by a sleeping position that adds stress to muscles or ligaments already affected by an injury or another health condition.
Is Sleeping on Your Side the Sole Cause of Your Shoulder Pain?
How you sleep may contribute to shoulder pain, but it is rarely the only cause. Discomfort may result from multiple factors, including injuries or health conditions like shoulder bursitis, osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder, or shoulder impingement syndrome.
Preventing and treating shoulder pain requires the expertise of a medical practitioner. But preventing sleep-related shoulder pain may be straightforward if you learn what causes it and how to avoid it.
What Causes Sleep-Related Shoulder Pain
Your shoulder bears significant torso weight when you sleep on your side. The pressure exerted on your shoulder for hours may cause your shoulder, neck, or back to experience pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
Pain that emerges when sleeping on your side may also point to another health problem, such as osteoarthritis of the shoulder, shoulder bursitis, and rotator cuff injuries. Connective tissue inflammation or strenuous activities can cause these health problems.
How To Handle Sleep-Related Shoulder Pain
As cited above, sleep-related shoulder pain may result from exerting excess pressure on your shoulder or a secondary problem resulting from an underlying health problem like osteoarthritis or rotator cuff issues.
Whatever the cause of your shoulder pain, you'll need to receive a comprehensive diagnosis from a medical practitioner. This will pinpoint your shoulder pain's root cause and any secondary causes. Identifying the cause of your shoulder pain will help you and your doctor tailor solutions to help you feel better.
However, before calling a medical professional, you can do a few things to ease the shoulder pain that emerges when you sleep on your side. Detailed below are some solutions to sleep-related shoulder issues.
Sleep position adjustments
If sleeping on your side is the main trigger of shoulder pain, changing your position or using bedding accessories to adjust your posture may help. Ideally, you want to seek out neutral sleeping positions that evenly spread your body's weight.
Sleeping on your back or stomach may be a better alternative, but this also depends on the type of sleeping surface you use. Generally, work on using a sleeping posture that supports your body evenly to ease the pressure exerted on your shoulders and to avert pain and discomfort.
Use Supports That Better Your Sleeping Position.
Maintaining a healthy sleeping position that prevents or eases shoulder pain can be challenging. Try using supports such as pillows to help you stay in an ideal posture while in bed.
Ensure Your Mattress Is Ideal for Your New Sleeping Position.
Mattresses come in different designs, and only a few are designed to suit specific sleeping positions. A soft mattress is ideal for a side sleeper. But an ultra-firm mattress may not be great for a side sleeper because it may exert more pressure on your shoulder.
Use Pillows to Support Your Neck and Cushion Your Arm.
An adjustable or wedge pillow is ideal for side sleepers because it positions your body correctly. Proper positioning avoids excess weight-related pressure on some body parts, including the shoulder. Cushioning your neck and upper arm also aligns your body, reduces shoulder problems and prevents possible neck, arm and back pain.
Change Sides During Your Sleeping Time
Sleeping in one position for extended periods may exert excess pressure on your tissues, joints and muscles. Such pressure restricts blood flow and strains your tissues. As such, it's prudent to change sides. You may sleep on your back or turn to the left if the pain is in your right shoulder.
Do Some Routine Stretching and Exercises.
Stretching and exercising increase blood flow and ease pain and inflammation that may worsen as you sleep. Mild exercising and stretching also improve your core strength and makes your muscles, joints and connective tissues strong enough to bear pressure from improper sleeping positions.
Some recommended stretching movements include bear hug, child's pose, neck rolls and the kneeling lat stretch.
Seek Medical Intervention
If your sleep-related shoulder pain doesn't decrease or go away after stretching and changing your bedding and sleeping positions, you may need to see a doctor. Your doctor will diagnose and create a treatment plan for your shoulder pain.
Sleep-related shoulder pain may result from poor sleeping posture or improper bedding. The pain may also result from the aggravation of underlying health problems where symptoms manifest when sleeping on your side. Whatever the case, you should seek guidance to improve your sleeping positions, habits and bedding. If the pain persists, seek medical care and avoid self-medication that could worsen your problem.