Shoulder pain at night is a common complaint of my patients especially the ones who sleep on the side.
If you have arthritic or inflamed joint, the inflammation can worsen if you sleep on the painful shoulder. Try to keep pressure off the affected joint by lying on your back or on the other side with the arm supported by hugging a pillow. Alternatively if you must sleep on that side bring the shoulder slightly forwards or backwards to help alleviate the pain/discomfort.
I notice that many patients don’t realise that the pillow’s role is to support the neck in the mid-line position and that your shoulder should not be on the pillow.
Sleeping on your back is the best option to reduce shoulder pain at night.
You can either hug a pillow across your abdomen or place a thin pillow or towel behind your arm to stop it falling backwards when lying on your back.The main aim is to avoid compressing shoulder nerves, tendons and/or joints. Make sure that your head, neck and shoulders are in a neutral position.
For those with sprains and rotator-cuff injuries, that need to sleep on their side are normally most comfortable hugging a pillow with the painful shoulder up.
Sleep is the time when your body gets a chance to repair itself so sleeping in a comfortable position and allowing your body to do it’s work is key to getting rid of your shoulder pain.