How Should you sleep when your shoulder hurts

When your shoulder hurts one of the hardest things can be to get a good night’s sleep. Finding a comfortable position to sleep in can be almost impossible.  One of the most popular questions we get asked is how I should sleep with shoulder pain.

Sleeping after you have had shoulder surgery is one of the most difficult things to do. One thing that is heavily recommended after shoulder surgery is to sleep in a recliner. Whether you buy one, rent one or borrow one, having a recliner to sleep in is very important.  It will allow the shoulder to be in a more comfortable position in order to be able to get some sleep.

However, there may be shoulder pain that makes it difficult to sleep even without surgery. And there are better positions than others to sleep in to help the shoulder heal faster and to help you be able to sleep through the night.

Ideally when you have shoulder pain, you should sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back puts your shoulder into a position that could cause some of the blood to be diminished and it can be severely uncomfortable.

You need to set yourself up with a side sleeper pillow to begin with. Sleeping on your side with two pillows is something that should not be done. Pillows slide and you will use your neck and shoulder to hold them in place.  This can cause shoulder pain, and headaches.

In order to sleep on your side, you need to get a large thick pillow that is as thick as your shoulder so when you lay down, your head does not drop, nor is it elevated. Your head should be in the same position as to when you are standing.  The pillow cannot be a down pillow, it will be a hard, thick pillow.

When going to lay down, you need to sleep on the shoulder that does not hurt. While you will move around in the night and will not stay in the same position, it is important that you start in the correct position and if you find yourself out of the position then reposition yourself.

Then for the shoulder that hurts, you will want to hug a pillow. This will elevate your shoulder and allow the most amount of blood to flow and permit the most amount of healing to happen while you are sleeping.  You can watch the video to see how exactly you should position the pillow.

You want to avoid hugging the pillow to either falling backwards or forwards. If you fall backwards or forwards you will be cutting off some of the blood supply to the shoulder.  This can cause you to wake up with a dull ache or a throbbing.

If you find that you need to sleep on your back, then you should put a pillow underneath your shoulder and arm.  This will again elevate the shoulder and allow maximum amount of blood flow in order to allow you to sleep at night.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain in Harleysville or shoulder pain in Hatfield or shoulder pain in North Wales, then you can come in for a free consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy all you have to do is call our office at 215-997-9898.


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