If you have shoulder pain, you may notice it hurts more when you’re sleeping. Kamal Bohsali, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, answers common questions about shoulder pain at night and what you can do to rest easy.
I have mild shoulder pain during the day, but when I sleep, it becomes much worse. Why does it hurt more at night?
When you lie down, you’re putting direct pressure on your shoulder that you don’t experience during your normal day. This compresses the joint, causing the inflamed tissue to become more painful. Some people notice the pain more when they turn over or sleep on their side.
What can I do about shoulder pain? Are there any at-home remedies?
Try backing off on your activity for a couple of weeks and taking anti-inflammatory medication. A heating pad and gentle stretches may provide relief as well.
What’s causing my shoulder pain?
Our shoulders take a lot of wear and tear and sometimes the pain is from arthritis. Other culprits include bursitis, which is inflammation of the fluid-filled sac of the joint, or tendonitis, when tendons become inflamed.
Other conditions are frozen shoulder, where the shoulder joint lining thickens and tightens, or a ruptured rotator cuff, which is a tear in the tendon tissue connecting muscle to bone. X-rays can be helpful to find the reason for the pain.
When should I see a doctor about shoulder pain?
It’s a good idea to make an appointment if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Clicking or popping in the shoulder joint
- Persistent pain that intensifies with use
- Pain that keeps you from sleeping for more than 4 weeks
- Stiffness and inability to lift your arm over your head
Will going to an orthopedist always lead to surgery?
Most shoulder pain can be treated without surgery. Non-invasive treatments include over-the-counter and prescription medications, cortisone injections, home exercises, and supervised physical therapy. If conservative treatments aren’t working, surgery may be an option.