Your shoulders are remarkably complex ball-and-socket joints that hinge your arms to your torso. You rely on their wide range of motion for reaching, throwing, lifting, and numerous other movements.
Shoulder pain is common. In fact, it is the third most common reason why people seek physical therapy. It tends to come with stiffness and can flare up at specific times, like when you’re laying down in bed or when you wake up in the morning.
When shoulder pain occurs, suddenly the easy motions of your shoulders are no longer so simple. A detailed shoulder pain evaluation by board-certified orthopedist David Dickerson, MD, identifies the injury or condition causing your discomfort. He has two Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine offices in Shrewsbury and Toms River, New Jersey.
Many injuries and conditions can cause shoulder pain, including but not limited to:
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Shoulder osteoarthritis
- Shoulder instability
- Frozen shoulder
It’s common for pain and stiffness in the shoulder to flare up at certain times of the day, like in the morning. Increased shoulder pain when you wake up doesn’t make for a great start to your day, so finding ways to manage it is essential to your mood and productivity.
Why your shoulder pain flares up after waking
Side sleeping is a common culprit. Even if you don’t initially fall asleep on your side, you might roll over during the night and end up on your side.
Unfortunately, sleeping on your side can cause much of your body weight to rest on your shoulder, causing extra stress. That can increase inflammation within the joint.
How to wake up with less shoulder pain
Increased shoulder pain in the morning is mostly dependent on your sleeping position.
A step to reducing shoulder pain in the mornings is to change the way you sleep — but that is often easier said than done. You can sleep on the other side of your body that doesn’t have a shoulder injury, but doing so can cause discomfort in your other shoulder. Therefore, try sleeping on your back instead.
You can train yourself to sleep on your back by:
- Using a firm pillow to support your neck
- Adding pillows under your knees
- Adding a pillow under your lower back
- Place pillows around your body to keep from rolling over
Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal for alleviating morning shoulder pain because most stomach sleeping positions involve keeping your arms over your head or under your body, which can put pressure on your rotator cuffs.
Some helpful shoulder pain tips
Our expert orthopedic team at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine offers personalized tips for reducing your shoulder pain.
Aside from the clinical care you receive and the changes in sleeping position to reduce shoulder pain when you wake up, we recommend adopting a healthy diet, icing your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time throughout the day, and using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.
Engage in professional care for your shoulder pain today by setting up a treatment consultation over the phone or by booking an appointment online at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.