The shoulder has a very complicated structure. It mainly consists of 3 different bones, nearly 30 muscles, tendons, ligaments, and a bursa sac. The tendons hold the muscles to the bones while the bursa sac secretes a fluid that provides lubrication and facilitates shoulder movements. Throughout the day, your shoulder muscles perform innumerable tasks and are subjected to a lot of stress and strain. When you go to sleep, the muscles can relax and the tension is relieved from them. However, if you suffer from shoulder pain every night, then the shoulders do not get the much-needed rest and become more fatigued.
Causes and Symptoms of Shoulder Pain at Night
The most common possible cause of shoulder pain during nighttime is an injury to the rotator cuff, a set of four muscles that provide stability to the shoulder. It also helps in various shoulder joint movements like, lifting of the arms. The rotator cuff is highly susceptible to injury. It may suffer injuries due to overuse of the muscles, a bad fall, or a blow to the shoulder. Sports persons who are into racket sports are prone to rotator cuff injury. Even simple tasks that involve repeated shoulder movements, like, throwing a ball, swimming, or painting a ceiling, etc., can strain these muscles.
Shoulder bursitis caused due to inflammation in the fluid filled bursa sac, can trigger a severe shoulder pain in the middle of the night. Direct injury to the shoulder, excessive use of shoulders, aging, etc., are few of the factors that inflame the bursa and increase its fluid content. Other possible causes of a painful shoulder are underlying problems, such as, tendonitis, arthritis, or dislocation of shoulder joint.
The typical symptoms are, of course, a constant, dull pain along with stiffness or swelling in the affected shoulder. The intensity of the pain often becomes severe when you change your sleeping position, or you try to move your arms up and down. If the tendons are badly compressed, the pain will worsen when you raise your hand. An intense pain in shoulder may have a numbing and tingling effect in the arm and fingers.
Cure for Shoulder Pain at Night
When a person bothered by a bad shoulder pain at night visits a doctor, the latter will first give medicines to bring down the pain so that the patient can catch up with some sleep. Doctors usually administer two different types of medication in this condition. One is the anti-inflammatory drugs that can provide temporary relief from the pain. The other one to help the patient to fall asleep.
A recurrent shoulder pain only at night should be diagnosed with the help of X-rays and MRI scan. These laboratory tests can detect any damage in the structural components of a shoulder. An injured shoulder should be rested properly by avoiding strenuous activities. Use ice for cold compression. Take ice cubes, wrap them in a towel and rub gently over the painful shoulder for 15-20 minutes. Ice has a calming effect on the pain and swelling, and you will be able to fall asleep quickly. However, never apply ice directly on the skin. Physical therapy is the best treatment for rotator cuff injury. In case there is a tear in the rotator cuff, then surgery is needed to repair the damage. If the cause of the pain is any other disease, then necessary steps are taken for its treatment.
You can do stretching exercises before going to bed to get some relief from the annoying shoulder pain. These exercises increase strength and flexibility of the shoulder muscles. Just stretch your arms first up and down and then from one side to another. Hold your hands in each of the stretched positions for about 20 seconds, but not more than that. Make sure that the stretches give a gentle pull to the shoulder muscles and not hurt them.
When you are suffering from shoulder pain while sleeping, you should sleep in such a position that your body weight does not put additional pressure to your painful shoulder. You can align a number of extra pillows under the shoulder for support. As a result, the shoulder remains isolated and the weight of the body will get distributed evenly.