Why Does My Shoulder Pain Get Worse At Night?

February 29, 2024

Growing old is often synonymous with finding random parts of your body screaming in protest from the pain, and one of the most common complaints we get is shoulder pain.

Not only does a squeaky shoulder joint cause problems in your day-to-day life, but it can also disturb your sleep, especially if the pain doubles when you lie down.

It’s not surprising for your shoulder pain to get worse at night, although it is a mystery as to why it happens. But don’t worry! We are here to solve this mystery and answer all your burning questions right here in this blog!

Why Does Shoulder Pain Get Worse at Night?

If your shoulder pain tends to get worse every night, it might be due to your sleeping position. Sometimes, sleeping at the wrong angle can cause the muscles to tense up, leading to immense pain.

Other times, the pain could be a sign of an internal joint issue that may require immediate attention. Mentioned below are a handful of reasons behind the increasing shoulder pain.

  1. Inflamed or Sore Shoulder Joint
    If you had a long day packed with activities, chances are your entire body would be in pain. This can give way to inflammation and strain in the shoulder joint. Thus, when you rest at night, your body’s natural healing process begins, leading to increased blood flow and pain in the affected area.
  2. Poor Sleeping Posture
    Sleeping in positions that place pressure on the shoulder joint or nerves causes shoulder pain. Plus, if you have a habit of sleeping on your side, especially on the affected shoulder, it can worsen the pain by restricting blood flow to that specific muscle and joint.
  3. Muscle Stiffness
    Lack of movement during sleep can lead to muscle stiffness and tightness in your shoulder. This stiffness often causes discomfort and pain.
  4. Rotator Cuff Injury
    Having a tear in your rotator cuff muscles may cause sharp and intense pain to shoot through your arm. At times, even stretching or raising your arm can seem too painful.
  5. Frozen Shoulder
    If your shoulder feels stiff and achy, making it difficult to move the arm, you might have a frozen shoulder. Not to mention, people with frozen shoulders often feel their symptoms worsening at night.
  6. Arthritis
    Shoulder arthritis can lead to chronic pain, one which has a habit of getting worse at night, especially when you’re lying down or sleeping.
  7. Bursitis
    Inflammation of the bursae of your shoulder joint is known to cause a lot of discomfort. It can even double in pain if you lie down on your shoulder.

How to Treat Shoulder Pain

Ultimately, being able to treat shoulder pain depends entirely on the severity of the condition. That is to say, if the pain is brought on because of a poor sleeping position, all you have to do is fix the way you sleep.

However, if the pain is an extension of something serious like a rotator cuff injury, you may have to visit a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis. Nevertheless, you can try to ease some of the pain by following some of the tips mentioned below.

  1. RICE Method
    Resting the shoulder and applying ice packs can help reduce inflammation and relieve some of the pain.
  2. Physical Therapy
    Talk to a professional for physical therapy to help improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
  3. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
    Over-the-counter pain relievers are a great way of soothing shoulder pain.
  4. Consult a Medical Professional
    If shoulder pain persists or is paired with symptoms such as weakness or numbness, do not hesitate to contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Final Words

Even though nighttime shoulder pain can be hard to deal with, it isn’t something to worry about. Just make sure to take proper precautions to keep it from getting worse.

However, if you find that your shoulder pain is seemingly getting worse, especially during the night, schedule an appointment with Mufaddal Gombera, MD, at (713) 794-3457.

Dr Gombera Cover

Dr. Gombera

Dr. Gombera, earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. Expanding his expertise, he undertook a sports medicine and arthroscopy fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recognized as a Super Doctors Rising Star and honored for patient care excellence at the University of Michigan, he holds multiple certifications and licenses, solidifying his dedication to delivering exceptional medical services.



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