The pain of a torn rotator cuff can be excruciating, especially at night. You may make it throughout the day with little to no pain, but then when night comes, it can be pretty extreme. Rotator cuff pain seems to flare up at night, making it hard to get the rest you need to face the next day. Rest is an extremely important part of the healing process so, the sooner you can relieve the shoulder pain and get sufficient sleep, the better.
After several restless nights without sleep, you’re left wondering how to relieve rotator cuff pain at night. Since your body’s natural healing process is slowed down without an adequate amount of rest, a vicious cycle of pain is the result. Rotator cuff pain relief can be achieved by making a few changes throughout the day. Let’s look at some of the ways to relieve shoulder pain at night so you can get a restful night of sleep.
Stretch the Shoulder During the Day and Before Bed
By stretching the shoulder, you can strengthen the rotator cuff, which helps with healing. Adding 15-20 minutes of Yoga or Pilates is an excellent choice for stretching multiple muscle groups. By adding this one thing, it can make a huge difference in how well you can rest at night. Make sure the stretches you try are gentle and don’t cause more pain. The stretch should not be forced or painful.
Breathe deeply while stretching so your muscles aren’t tense. Make sure to stretch consistently for the best results. Our doctors at AICA in Jonesboro can give you some good stretches to try for treatment for shoulder pain.
Relieve Rotator Cuff Pain by What You Do or Don’t Do Throughout the Day
Take care of your shoulder throughout the day to get better rest at night. Making small changes can make a huge difference in relieving rotator cuff pain at night. Here are just a few changes you can make for a better night of rest:
- Maintain good posture throughout the day
- Avoid lifting heavy objects over your head repetitively
- Make stretching a regular part of your day
- Switch out sleeping positions every night
- Take regular breaks when doing any repetitious motion that involves the shoulder
- Avoid carrying objects over 10 pounds on one side of your body, alternate sides
Hot or Cold Therapy for Rotator Cuff Pain Relief
Warm or cold compresses can help relieve shoulder pain at night. Heat tends to soothe the muscles and enables them to relax. Try applying heat to your shoulder for 15 minutes at a time during the evening before bed. Be sure not to sleep with a heating pad. A good plan is to use the heat for 15 minutes on then 20 minutes off. You can also try a cold pack. Some individuals find cold works better for them. Another option is to alternate between the hot or cold packs with 15 minutes of each. The cold compresses help reduce inflammation in the shoulder, whereas the heat helps increase circulation.
Try Different Sleeping Positions
Many sleeping positions can help relieve shoulder pain. However, some can make it worse. So, if one isn’t comfortable for you, try another one until you find one that works for you. By finding a more comfortable sleeping position, you can be on your way toward getting plenty of rest to face your day.
Sleeping Positions to Avoid for Rotator Cuff Pain
Several different sleeping positions can make rotator cuff pain worse at night. Avoid sleeping flat on your back since this puts an extra strain on the shoulder. However, if you are a back sleeper, support your arm with a towel or pillow so that it lines up with the rest of your body. You can try propping the arm up, and if this doesn’t relieve the pain, try placing a pillow under the shoulder.
Another sleeping position to avoid is on your stomach. It’s pretty much impossible to maintain a good position on your stomach since your arms are in an awkward position. This can lead to increased rotator cuff pain at night.
Sleeping Positions to Try for Rotator Cuff Pain Relief
Try sleeping on your side for shoulder pain relief at night. When you sleep on the opposite side of your painful shoulder, it can make a big difference in achieving pain relief for a better night of rest. Place a pillow behind or in front of you to help maintain the position and keep you from turning over in your sleep.
Sleeping in a reclined position is another good choice to relieve shoulder pain. Less pressure is put on the shoulder while in a reclined position. Sleeping in a recliner is a good option while your rotator cuff injury is healing. You can also try using pillows in the bed to help prop you up to a 45-degree angle.
When nothing else seems to work, it may be necessary to take medication for rotator cuff pain relief. There are topical creams that can be applied directly to the painful area as well as medications that can be taken by mouth. Pain medication such as Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve can help ease the pain so you can get a good night of rest. Topical creams such as Biofreeze, Voltaren and, Aspercreme are some over-the-counter options that may help relieve nighttime shoulder pain.
See Your Chiropractor for Rotator Cuff Pain Relief
While some pain responds well to conservative treatment, oftentimes, an injury requires more attention. If you experience excruciating pain, swelling, difficulty raising your arm, or trouble sleeping on your arm for more than a few days, it’s important to visit your doctor. These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious injury. Consulting with a chiropractor at AICA in Jonesboro is a great option for treatment for shoulder pain. Our doctors at AICA can create a treatment plan that is designed specifically for you. We get to the root cause of what is causing your pain and help you get the relief you need.
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- Holdaway, Lincoln A et al. “Is sleep position associated with glenohumeral shoulder pain and rotator cuff tendinopathy: a cross-sectional study.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders vol. 19,1 408. 23 Nov. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12891-018-2319-9