When you went to bed last night you felt fine, but this morning you woke up with intense shoulder pain. What’s going on? You’ve never had shoulder pain before, and you can’t think of anything physical you did yesterday to injure your shoulder.

So what could have happened between yesterday and today to cause this level of shoulder pain? It could be your sleeping position.

If you’re someone with little to no history of shoulder pain, and have done nothing out of the ordinary that you can think of to cause this pain, and the pain seems to have come out of the blue after you woke up one morning – then the way you slept might be the culprit.

How can sleeping result in shoulder pain?

Your sleeping position at night may be the cause of your shoulder pain. The sleeping positions that are most often responsible for shoulder pain are:

  1. Sleeping on your side,
  2. Sleeping with your hand on your head or above your head.

Sleeping on your side can put extra stress on the shoulder, as it is bearing the weight of the rest of the body. This extra pressure may be the main cause of your shoulder pain, or it may be triggering an underlying cause of the pain that you may not be aware of, such as:

  • A rotator cuff injury
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen shoulder

It’s possible to have one of the above issues without yet experiencing any noticeable symptoms, but when you sleep on your affected shoulder it puts on extra pressure that can exacerbate the pain.

Sleeping with your hand above your head or on your head can also cause shoulder pain. Sleeping in this position tends to put quite a bit of stress on your neck and shoulder muscles.

What are the best sleeping positions to avoid shoulder pain?

The great news is that shoulder pain caused by sleeping on your side will likely improve within 48 hours (if it doesn’t, you should contact your physician and chiropractor to investigate other underlying causes of the pain).

The bad news is that shoulder pain caused by sleeping on your side can be intense, can reduce the mobility of your arms, and impact your day-to-day activities within those 24 hours. So finding a way to avoid this pain in the first place may be the best place for you to start. Here are some things to try:

  • Avoid sleeping with your hand raised above your head or resting on your head.
  • Sleeping on your back is one of the best sleep positions to avoid shoulder pain. So if you can fall asleep (and stay asleep) on your back, this is your best bet.
  • If sleeping on your back is a struggle, the next best step is to avoid sleeping on your affected shoulder, and switch to sleeping on the opposite side.
  • To prevent yourself from accidentally rolling onto your affected shoulder while sleeping, consider placing a pillow in a way that will prevent you from moving in the night.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of shoulder pain caused by sleeping, or are unsure what is causing your shoulder pain, South Orange Chiropractic  can help.

Reach Out to Us

All of the doctors at South Orange Chiropractic are dedicated to helping you get to the root cause of your shoulder pain. Reach out today to book your appointment. Let’s get you back to feeling good again.