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Reasons why your Shoulder hurts when you sleep and some Available Treatments

Updated on December 1, 2016

Shoulder pains

Shoulder pains
Shoulder pains

Causes of shoulder pains at night

Why does my shoulder hurt at night when I am asleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions with regard to shoulder pains. Millions of people around the world suffer from shoulder pains at night or when asleep and don't seem to understand the cause of their predicament or how to go about getting relief from it. If you happen to be one of those who are often plagued by this highly irritating condition, then this article is just what you need; because we would be looking at some of the reasons why your shoulder hurts when you sleep and some treatment measures available to you.

Why your shoulder hurts at night

The most common cause of a shoulder pain in the night is as a result of a condition known as rotator cuff tendinosis (injury); this simply means that your rotator cuff tendons are wearing out. The rotator cuff tendons are the muscles that control the movement of the shoulder in humans.

Causes of rotator cuff tendinosis (injury)

Below are some of the causes of rotator cuff tendinosis:

Age: A person increases his or her risk of suffering from a rotator cuff injury as he or she ages. This is the reason why people above 40 years tend to suffer more from this condition.

Repetitive arm movements: When you frequently engage in activities that involve the overuse of your shoulders, then your risk of developing a rotator cuff injury becomes significantly high. For example, certain sports such as tennis and baseball that involve the overuse of the shoulders can increase your risk of developing the problem. This is the reason why one of the most common injuries among tennis players is the rotator cuff injury. Certain high energy demanding manual works like lifting, loading and packing of heavy equipment will put the rotator cuff under stress and increase the risk of developing an injury. Also, people who often use their computers for typing the whole day may also experience injury of the rotator cuff.

Genetics: There are certain cases where the condition runs in the family. If you therefore come from a family with a history of rotator cuff injuries, your likelihood of suffering from it is increased.

Of all the things mentioned above, overuse of the shoulder is the biggest cause of rotator cuff injury. When you overuse your shoulder, an intense pressure is put on it, which can easily cause injury.

Symptoms of rotator cuff injury

Now that you are abreast with some of the possible causes of rotator cuff injury; let us look at some of the possible symptoms of rotator cuff injury. Below are some of them:

Pain in the shoulder is the biggest symptom of a rotator cuff injury. Pains from rotator cuff injury can range from being mild to being very severe. Sometimes it can be so severe to the point where you find it extremely difficult doing simple daily activities such as brushing your hair, wearing your clothes, etc. The worst part of the rotator cuff injury is the pain you experience in your shoulders at night. The pain can be so bad that it can prevent you from sleeping at night. It becomes even worse if you make the grave mistake of sleeping on the affected shoulder.

Remedies for treating shoulder pains

Shoulder pains can be addressed through the following methods:

  • When sleeping, you should try your best not to lie on the affected shoulder. The more you lie on the affected shoulder, the more you worsen your problem. You should also try not to sleep on your front. The best way to get a good night’s sleep and to avoid worsening your problem is to lie on your back when sleeping.
  • Sometimes, the best remedy to take is by simply resting the affected shoulder. Factory and other manual workers daily use their arms for lifting, packaging and holding of heavy equipment. By so doing they put their shoulder under a lot of pressure and this tends to stress shoulder, which leads to swelling and inflammation of the shoulder’s rotator cuff. A simple rest is what sportsmen such as tennis players, golfers, swimmers, basketball players, hockey players and javelin throwers, etc need.
  • Application of ice to the shoulders is effective in the treatment of shoulder pains. Ice can be applied on swollen parts of the shoulder with a bandage and plastic support to help tackle the inflammation. This is what is commonly referred to as cold compress. The cold from the ice you apply on the shoulder will reduce the inflammation and pain in the shoulder by numbing it. In doing this, you should know that it isn't advisable to put ice directly on your skin since that can lead to frostbite.


More often than not, doing the simple things above will give you relief from a rotator cuff injury and may also help you get rid of the shoulder pains at night. However, if the simple treatments above fail to give you relief from your shoulder pains and the pains keep getting worse and worse, then it is time to head to your doctor's office. Doctors often treat this condition with a number of methods, including surgery and steroid injections to the affected shoulder.

Applications of ice to shoulders

Applications of ice to shoulders
Applications of ice to shoulders

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    • Enoch Kane profile imageAUTHOR

      Enoch Kane 

      2 years ago from Ghana

      You are welcome

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 

      2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      I often get up in the morning with stiff neck and shoulder pain,that persist for a hour or so. Thanks for sharing the information.


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