Why Does My Shoulder Hurt When I Sleep?

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At some point, most of us experience shoulder pain. Often, this pain can worsen after sleeping if we're unaware of how we position our bodies. Experiencing shoulder pain at night can also lead to a poor night's sleep, which can have ripple effects on your entire day.

At Asheville Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Asheville, NC, board-certified doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. Christie Lehman helps treat shoulder pain with state-of-the-art nonsurgical interventions.

Keep reading to find out more about why your shoulder pain might feel worse after sleeping.

Why does my shoulder pain get worse after sleeping?

The shoulder contains ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones that have a complex relationship. This can sometimes make it challenging to identify what's causing shoulder pain at night. An underlying condition in any part of the shoulder may result in pain that feels dull, sharp, sudden, gradually worsens with use, causes weakness or instability, spasms, or tingling, limits your range of motion, or nags at you while you sleep.

Your shoulder may hurt worse at night or in the morning after sleep because of the position you slept in, a lack of movement for the hours you slept, or the pressure placed on an injured structure within the shoulder. If shoulder pain keeps you from getting a good night's rest, you may even feel that pain more acutely in the morning.

What conditions cause shoulder pain at night?

Identifying the cause of shoulder pain is Dr. Lehman's first goal when patients walk into Asheville Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine for shoulder pain treatment. Patients will be asked to share their daily activities or activities leading up to the start of the pain, as well as the level of activity they maintain. Shoulder pain can occur in those with active and relatively sedentary lifestyles, but it's important to share how you use your shoulder to help pinpoint the structures that may be affected.

Common causes of shoulder pain that occurs during sleep include:
Impingement of the rotator cuff as tendons become squeezed between the shoulder bones
Bursitis, tendonitis, or rotator cuff injuries that result from prolonged impingement
Osteoarthritis caused by the breakdown of cartilage in your shoulder joint

However, the cause of the pain may be more simple, so a thorough examination and medical history are the first priorities.

When to see a doctor about nighttime shoulder pain

Some soreness is common after certain activities that lead you to overuse your shoulder. However, if that pain is ongoing and interferes with your sleep or ability to function, and doesn't respond to the short-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers, heat, ice, or light stretching and rest, it may be time to make an appointment at Asheville Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

In addition, if you experience popping, locking, or dislocation of the shoulder or notice swelling in the area, give us a call. Often, these symptoms become worse at night.

How is shoulder pain during sleep treated?

Many people with shoulder pain are concerned that they may need invasive treatments, such as surgery. But Dr. Lehman specializes in minimally invasive treatments that use your body's own repair mechanisms to help alleviate pain and encourage a long-term healing response.

Treatment at Asheville Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is designed to minimize discomfort and help you address the underlying issues so you can return to an active lifestyle after treatment. That's why we use state-of-the-art regenerative medicine techniques and other innovative nonsurgical approaches whenever possible.

Treat shoulder pain in Asheville, NC

If you're losing sleep over shoulder pain and can't find relief with OTC pain medication, stretching, heat/ice, and rest, it's time to address the pain before it worsens.

Schedule a consultation with board-certified doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation Dr. Christine Lehman at Asheville Regenerative Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Asheville, NC to find out what's causing your shoulder pain and how it can be repaired.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.