Arm and Shoulder Pain at Night

Frequent episodes of arm and shoulder pain at night, may not be the only reason of poor sleep, but could be a manifestation of something seriously amiss in the body.
HealthHearty Staff
Arm and shoulder pain and numbness in most cases, are associated with each other. This is because, the pain that originates in the shoulder may get radiated to the arm portion or vice versa. Arm pain is defined as a pain that has its origin somewhere between the shoulder and the wrist, while shoulder pain refers to the pain that keeps occurring in or around the shoulder. Arms and shoulder are made up of different muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Any damage to any of these parts, whether due to an injury, or a medical condition, may manifest itself in the form of a pain, whose severity depends upon the cause and the location of the body. The treatment of problems such as these, largely depends upon the cause of the condition. Having said that, in the upcoming segment, I have listed down some factors which could be the most possible causes of arm and shoulder pain at night. Note that, some causes may be common with both the problems.

Arm and Shoulder Pain Causes

Keeping aside injuries that can occur from indulging in contact sports, meeting with accidents like car crashes, bike falls, etc., the list below gives the names of some medical conditions which are known to be commonly associated with arm and shoulder pain in women and men. The common causes of arm pain, would be followed by those associated with shoulder pain.

Arm Pain - Associated Medical Conditions
  • Brachial plexus injury (the brachial plexus is a nerve that acts as a communicating line between the spinal cord and the shoulder, arm and hand. If this nerve suffers a tear, it may cause arm pain at night or during the day, and pain in the shoulder as well.)
  • Broken arm, wrist or hand
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursae in the elbows; the bursae acts as a cushion to reduce the friction between the muscles, tendons and joints.)
  • Cancer (malignancy), primary or metastatic
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (cause by pinched nerve in wrist.)
  • De Quervain's tenosynovitis (inflammation of the tendons of the thumbs.)
  • Rotator cuff injury (irritation or damage caused to the rotator cuff muscles. These muscles connect the upper arm bone to the shoulder.)
  • Sprains and strains (tearing of ligaments is known as sprain; while strain refers to tearing or muscle tendon.)
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of any of the tendons in the arm may cause arm pain.)
  • Tennis elbow (overworking of tendons in the elbow causes this painful condition in the arm.)
Shoulder Pain - Associated Medical Conditions
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Broken arm
  • Bursitis
  • Cancer
  • Dermatomyositis (inflammatory condition that causes muscle weakness; more common in women.)
  • Dislocated shoulder (Another common and serious cause of shoulder pain.)
  • Frozen shoulder (the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful.)
  • Heart attack (Pain in the left shoulder may be a warning sign of heart attack.)
  • Multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disorder that deteriorates the nerves thus, interfering with the communication between the brain and the rest of the body.)
  • Osteoarthritis (a chronic form of arthritis; characterized by deterioration of cartilage in the joints.)
  • Pericarditis (there is this thin membrane that surrounds the heart. It is known as pericardium. If it gets swollen and irritated, it may cause shoulder pain.)
  • Pneumothorax (due to certain reasons, air escapes into the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This may cause the lungs to collapse.)
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica (an inflammatory condition and a common cause of arm and shoulder pain at night or any time of the day.)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (another autoimmune disorder that causes painful swelling.)
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Separated shoulder (it may occur as a result of an injury to the joint that connects the top of the shoulder and end of the collarbone.)
  • Septic arthritis (joint infection.)
  • Shingles (a serious infection and a common cause of arm and shoulder pain.)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sprains and strains
As it was mentioned, some causes would be common between the condition of arm and shoulder pain at night or any time during the day. And determining these causes are important for the patient to receive the dedicated treatment. If your arm and shoulder pain symptoms occur after a mild injury, all you may have to do is wait and watch. Over the counter pain killers may help in reducing the pain, and so may cold and hot compressions. However, if the injury is severe, or if the pain is occurring suddenly and is persistent, then things can cause a little concern. So in such a situation, get yourself diagnosed by a medical expert and let him advice you to take the required action.