Getting to sleep, and staying that way, can be near on impossible when you have a constantly aching shoulder that doesn’t seem to settle no matter what you do.
If your shoulder throbs when you lay down, wakes you up regularly, prevents you from laying on your side and has you reaching into the pain killer cabinet (even though you really don’t want to) then read on!
Being woken up by a painful shoulder is one of the most common problems that we see at HT Physio with our Farnham clients.
It’s a real issue, as the less sleep you get, and the more tired you feel, the ability that your body possesses to heal from an injury is hampered.
When we sleep, hormones are released that aid in the natural recovery process from both exercise and injury. If sleep is interrupted, so is the release of these important hormones. Not to mention how grotty you feel the following day!
Unfortunately, most conditions that cause a shoulder to be painful in the day also cause the shoulder to be painful at night.
What are the Most Common Causes of Shoulder Pain at Night?
One of the most common complaints that causes pain in the shoulder at night is frozen shoulder.
This condition isn’t very well understood, but pretty much always goes away eventually, even though it can take a significant amount of time.
It is really common – about 3% of the population will get it in their lifetime – so you’re not alone if you’re suffering from this at the moment!
Another common cause of shoulder pain at night is called impingement, which is a condition affecting the tendons in the shoulder, causing them to become sore and weak.
This condition is very activity dependent – meaning that if you’ve done a lot of physical activity involving your shoulder on that day, you are likely to feel the effects of it at night!
Why Does My Shoulder Hurt at Night Even When I’m Laid Still?
Usually this is because the shoulder joint moves into a position that can irritate damaged structures in your shoulder as we relax at night.
Unfortunately, you might find that the more you relax, the worse the pain gets, which causes you to remain uptight; something that none of us want when we are trying to get some shut eye!
More Importantly… What Can I Do About It?
Thankfully, we have a few useful tips and tricks at HT Physio that you can put into action in order to get a better night’s sleep.
These tips have been tried and tested by our patients and will usually give at least a 40% improvement in your sleep if adhered to – which can be the difference between sleeping right through, or having to switch the TV on at 4AM again!
1. Switch off all electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime
Electronic devices, such as iPhones and tablets, emit a type of light called ‘blue light’ which affects a part of the brain that keeps you more awake.
If we use these devices just before we go to bed, our brain remains ‘confused’ and doesn’t know whether to keep us up or let us sleep.
We can prevent this effect by switching off at least an hour before we need to sleep.
2. Place a pillow behind your shoulder
By placing a pillow behind the affected shoulder, this stops the shoulder from dropping back too much when you relax as you get off to sleep.
You may be able to make this more comfortable by placing an addition pillow or folded towel under your armpit too.
3. Take a hot bath or shower before bed
By heating the affected area, the muscles can relax which will ease any residual muscle spasm from a hard day’s work.
4. Use a magnesium rub for better sleep
Topical magnesium creams and lotions work great for releasing hormones associated with sleep.
You can rub a small amount around your neck about half an hour before bed to improve sleep quality.
5. Substitute in white meat for red meat in the evenings
Eating white meat has a calming effect on little receptors in your brain called “neurotransmitters”, which control energy and alertness.
Red meat is great in the mornings to get the neurotransmitters firing, but we don’t really want this at night.
Making this simple swap can have a great effect on sleep.
6. Put down the nightcap 2 hours before bed
Drinking alcohol just before sleep has been shown to have a detrimental effect on sleep quality.
I know the common theory is that a whiskey before bed might help to knock you out, but the actual sleep you’ll be getting will be of poorer quality.
Put a cork in the bottle 2 hours before bed to feel the difference.
7. Having sex stimulates sleep-boosting hormones!
Probably the best news in this article is that having sex has been proven to release feel-good hormones in the body that encourage deep sleep.
A great excuse to not let this type of extra-curricular activity go missing from your schedule!
So, in summary, try these 7 great tips for reducing shoulder pain at night at home and make a note of how well you sleep that night.
Shoulder pain can be extremely frustrating, but it is an extremely common problem that we see all the time at HT Physio. The good news it that we can help most people that come to see us about their shoulder pain.
There is a certain correlation between our success rate and the speed with which people come to see us after their shoulder pain starts. This means that the sooner you come to see us, the more likely it is that we can help!
As always, thanks for reading and remember that if you live in Farnham, there is help available for shoulder pain should you need it!