Nighttime Relief For Rotator Cuff Pain
Rotator cuff pain that may be barely noticeable during the day can be absolutely brutal at night. Since restful sleep is a crucial part of the healing process of the body, its of utmost importance to find a way to resolve the pain so you can get a restful night of sleep. During the night as you are sleeping, your body is working hard to repair itself. It does this by releasing hormones and proteins that help damaged tissues and muscles heal. When you are unable to sleep, the healing process is slowed down. A torn rotator cuff may cause pain at night that hinders your sleep schedule. Nighttime relief for rotator cuff pain can be achieved in several ways, but first, we will look at the reasons you experience shoulder pain at night.
Explore Other Ways To Relieve Shoulder Pain
If adjusting your sleep position, bed setup, and stretching routine hasnt alleviated your shoulder pain, try these strategies.
- Hot and cold therapy: Place an ice pack on your shoulder for 15 minutes a few times during the day. Before bed, use a heating pad to soothe stiffness and pain in your shoulders.
- Acupuncture: While further study on acupuncture is needed, some limited research shows that it can offer short-term improvements to shoulder pain and function.
- Proper posture: Maintaining good posture throughout the day can help keep your shoulder muscles and tendons in the correct position. Poor posture can reduce back and shoulder strength, affecting your spine.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce inflammation and in turn, help ease pain. Take these medications as directed on the bottle, or per your doctors instructions.
Should I Massage A Sore Shoulder
Before massaging your shoulder, you should consult a medical professional to ensure you dont worsen an existing shoulder condition or injury.
Gently massaging a sore shoulder can be very helpful for shoulder impingement, rotator cuff muscle strains, and tendinitis, to reduce inflammation, prevent scar tissue from building up, and help realign torn fibers of the ligament.
There are various types of massage, such as effleurage, friction, static pressure, and stretching each serving a unique purpose.
However, rather than attempting to self-massage your injured rotator cuff yourself, you should consult with a massage therapist who has a thorough understanding of shoulder biomechanics and tissue healing.
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Tips For Reducing Shoulder Pain While Sleeping
Sleeping on your back is one way to reduce pain from shoulder impingement while sleeping. Other tips for reducing shoulder pain at night include:
- Sleeping with a shoulder relief pillow. MedClines Shoulder Relief System comes with a patented arm pocket that allows your arm to drop down naturally without adding your body weight on your downside arm and shoulder. A pillow approved for FSA and HSA can be approved as a medical expenditure and help alleviate pain placed on your shoulder from a rotator cuff injury or nerve impingement.
- Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen may alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
- Applying ice to your injured shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes before bed can reduce swelling and inflammation that causes pain.
- Stretching your shoulder before bed and when you wake up. Some stretching exercises that can help reduce shoulder pain include a cross-body stretch where you bring your affect arm across your body and hold for 20 seconds, a towel stretch where you bring both arms behind your back, hold a towel in both hands, and gently stretch the affected shoulder at a 45-degree angle, and the finger walk stretch where you walk your fingers on the arm with the affected shoulder up a wall6.
With these tips handy, you can be one step closer to treating your shoulder impingement or rotator cuff injury and getting a good nights sleep.
The Risk Of Recurrent Rotator Cuff Injuries
There is always a risk of re-tearing your rotator cuff, especially if you have sustained a large tear. Your risk is also dependent on the types of activities you perform eg if you play certain sports where repetitive overhead shoulder movements are involved. This risk can be reduced by performing exercises to improve your core stability and strengthen your shoulder joint.
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Make Sure Youre Sleeping On The Right Mattress
Sleeping on your side can place additional pressure on your shoulder, causing irritation or pain if youre sleeping on a mattress that doesnt give you the support you need. It is quite possible your current mattress is making your shoulder pain worse or at the very least, not helping it. The shoulder you are laying on can press too hard into the mattress, creating misalignment and pain the next morning. You want to make sure youre supported all night long by sleeping on the right mattress. A firm mattress can help alleviate the risk of further injury to your rotator cuff. We have dozens of Firm comfort level mattresses to choose from, including the Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt Firm Mattress, Stearns & Foster Rockwell Luxury Firm Mattress, City Mattress Saguaro Firm Mattress, and many more.
How Physical Therapy Helps Shoulder Pain
Physical therapy is highly effective in treating rotator cuff pain. For example,
- It strengthens shoulder muscles and restores shoulder mechanics. As a result, physical therapy improves how the shoulder joint works, besides helping to make up for damaged tendons.
- Therapists focus on the shoulder blade , making the shoulder more stable.
- They show patients how to retrain affected muscles so that everything is kept in place while using the shoulder. This brings back a range of motion.
- Thus, physical therapy is effective in reducing pain and restoring motion as well as reconditioning the shoulder, so youre able to resume your everyday activities and use your shoulder again.
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What Causes Rotator Cuff Pain
A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that attach to the bones of the shoulder, allowing it to move as it should. When the rotator cuff is damaged due to overuse or injury, it can cause be extremely painful. A torn rotator cuff may be the cause of your shoulder pain that may also go down your arm to the elbow, limiting the movement of the shoulder.
When To See A Doctor For Rotator Cuff Pain
While some pain may be relieved by conservative treatment, oftentimes, an injury is more serious and may require more attention. If you experience excruciating pain, swelling, difficulty raising the arm, or trouble sleeping on your arm for more than a few days, its important to consult your doctor. These symptoms may be a sign of a more serious injury.
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The 5 Most Common Issues That Can Affect The Rotator Cuff And Cause Shoulder Pain At Night:
Stretch The Shoulder For Rotator Cuff Pain At Night
Stretching the shoulder during the day and before bed can help strengthen the rotator cuff and also help with the healing process. When you stretch the muscles, you shouldnt experience pain. Exercise programs such as Yoga or Pilates can also be a great way to relieve shoulder pain at night. Setting aside just 15 to 30 minutes during the day can go a long way toward a good night of rest and relieve rotator cuff pain at night.
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Why Is The Pain Worse At Night
Thats a little bit of a mystery. Healthcare professionals have some ideas why it hurts more at night primarily related to blood flow and muscle tension but theres really no definitive reason, says Kinsey.
Your body is quieter at night, says Kinsey, so youre more likely to hear the thing in your body screaming the loudest.
What To Do Before Bedtime
While it may not be possible to completely avoid shoulder pain at night, there are measures that can be taken to decrease the level of discomfort and risk of further injury.
Depending on the severity of the rotator cuff injury, simple conservative treatments may be all thats needed for a full recovery.
In any case, the RICE method Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation is almost always recommended for the first 48 hours following an injury.
- Resting the shoulder and limiting unnecessary overhead or lateral movements of the arm will help prevent additional strain on the shoulder
- Ice will stimulate blood flow to help alleviate some of the pain
- Compression will help to stabilize the shoulder and allow the muscles and tendons in the shoulder to rest
- Elevation, if the pain allows, can also help to reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort.
Similarly, over-the-counter pain medication can also help to alleviate many symptoms and can be very useful for people who experience the most shoulder pain while falling asleep.
Some physicians may also recommend a shoulder immobilizer, which is an orthotic device designed to support and limit your shoulder from doing certain motions.
Rotator cuff braces can be especially effective at night, as they stabilize the shoulder joint in the correct position and prevent undesired displacement and positioning.
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Avoid Sleeping On The Affected Side Or Your Stomach
Unless instructed by your physical therapist or doctor, sleeping on the affected side may aggravate your injury. This can depend on the type and location of your pain, but its best to avoid putting extra pressure and weight on the shoulder joint until you can visit your doctor.
Stomach sleeping should also be avoided because it adds stress to the injury, especially if the pain is in the front of the shoulder.
Sleep With A Propped Up Shoulder
If the two tips above dont work for you, there is one more sleeping position that might help. Sleeping on your back with your arm and shoulder propped up on a pillow may help reduce the pain you feel in your rotator cuff.
Some people find that just putting their arm up helps them sleep. Others find that putting a pillow under their shoulder helps them sleep better. It would help if you did what makes you comfortable and enables you to sleep the best.
How To Sleep With A Rotator Cuff Injury And Shoulder Pain
Ideally, you would grow sleepy in the evening and climb into bed at a reasonable hour. As you lie in bed, you would feel calm and relaxed. Within a few minutes, you fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. Eight hours later, you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new day. However, if youre experiencing any type of pain or injury, this can feel out of reach. This is particularly true if your injured body part is where you are resting your weight as you lie in bed, like your shoulder. Nearly every step in your plan to get a good night of sleep is made more difficult with shoulder pain. There is good news, though. Sleeping with rotator cuff injury isnt as impossible as it may seem, as long as you have a bit of expert advice to help.
Heat Or Ice Therapy For Rotator Cuff Pain Relief
Applying heat or ice to your shoulder can help relieve rotator cuff pain at night. Heat may work better for some individuals in relieving rotator cuff pain at night since it tends to soothe the area and increase blood flow. Try applying a heating pad to your shoulder for 15 minutes at a time as you begin your bedtime routine. Alternate 15 minutes of heat and 20 minutes off while winding down in the evening. Make sure you dont fall asleep with the heating pad on.
Icing the shoulder is another great way to help relieve rotator cuff pain at night. Ice helps reduce inflammation when applied to an injury. Once again, try 15 minutes of ice and then 20 minutes off.
Alternating between hot and cold therapy is another option since cold therapy helps alleviate inflammation and warm compression helps increase blood flow to the area.
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Main image: Hand on a shoulder sling by Handemandaci used with permission under the terms of Canvas One Design Use License Agreement.
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Sleep On The Opposite Side
If you are usually a side sleeper, you should try to sleep on the opposite shoulder. If the pain is significant, sleeping on it will not only feel worse, but it can make the injury worse as well. Place a few pillows behind you for support and to prevent you from rolling in your sleep. Alternatively, I highly recommend is using two BioPEDIC Body Pillows on either side of you to help keep you positioned on your non-affected side!
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Does Sleeping On Side Hurt Rotator Cuff
Sleeping on your side can worsen rotator cuff injury symptoms, including dull pain or aches in the shoulder and reduced range of motion from stiffness. Rotator cuff injury pain may cause disrupted sleep and worsening pain when using the shoulder.
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Care For Your Shoulder Pain Throughout The Day
What you do throughout the day can affect how well youre able to sleep at night. Some of the ways to prevent your rotator cuff pain from keeping you awake at night are small habits that can have a big impact on relieving rotator cuff pain at night.
Self-care for rotator cuff pain relief include the following:
- Avoid carrying a bag, child, or anything over 10 pounds on one side of your body
- Stretch regularly throughout the day
- Sit up straight and maintain good posture
- Avoid activities that require repetitive lifting over your head
- Take breaks from repetitive activities
- Dont sleep in the same position every night, alternate sides
- When carrying objects, make sure you are carrying them close to your body
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Best Rotator Cuff Brace For Sleeping
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Rotator cuff are the tendons and muscles that help hold the shoulder joints in place to allow you move your arms and shoulder freely. When a part of the rotator cuff becomes damaged or irritated, it usually results in weakness, pain and reduced range of motion. This is where the rotator cuff brace comes in. Rotator cuff brace usually offers shoulder immobilization and typically controls your range of motion. They are used for rotator cuff tears, muscle strains, separations and dislocations.
Rotator cuff injuries are the most common causes of pain ranging from mild to severe Its normal to have trouble sleeping especially if you have a rotator cuff injury. The initial treatment involves relative rest and pain control. Fortunately, you can manage the pain with cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications. Plus, you might need to wear a rotator cuff brace to limit shoulder movement and heal properly.
Rotator cuff brace for sleeping will help:
- Correct postural habits that cause pain
- Compress the shoulder joint to reduce inflammation
- Keeps the shoulder elevated to aid healing and improve blood flow
- Reduce shoulder instability for proper and fast healing in the right position
Sleep Flat On Your Back With A Pillow
Depending on the location of the injury, sleeping on your back can help relieve some of the pain. If the pain is in the front of your shoulder, try sleeping on your back and placing a pillow or thin cushion under the affected side. Elevating the arm will help to take the pressure off of the shoulder and will stop you from rolling onto it.
However, keep in mind that if the pain is in the back of your shoulder, back sleeping may not be comfortable or ideal as the weight could worsen the pain. If you are looking for a thin pillow, Ive had the best luck with an Ultra Slim Gel Memory Foam Pillow . Ive had it for over a year and I absolutely love it extremely comfortable!
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Advances In Rotator Cuff Repair
Arthroscopy to repair rotator cuffs has improved dramatically in the last two decades, with advances in the cameras, instruments, anchors and stitches used. There has also been progress in graft materials, with the advent of biological scaffolds ie synthetic grafts containing human stem cells. As the technology has improved, rotator cuff surgery has become faster and recovery times shorter.
Research into what is happening at the molecular level, that is, inside tendon cells and with enzyme levels, has also improved our understanding of why some people are more prone to tears. This may help in both the treatment and prevention of rotator cuff tears in the future.