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The Causes of Shoulder Pain at Night & What to Do about Them

woman with shoulder pain

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Shoulder pain can be an excruciating and frustrating experience, and when it happens at night, it can significantly disrupt your sleep, leading to fatigue and lower productivity during the day. The causes of shoulder pain at night can vary, from injury to poor sleeping posture, and if left untreated, it may lead to chronic discomfort and reduced mobility. This article looks into the common causes of shoulder pain at night and offers some tips on how to treat it.

Causes of Shoulder Pain 

1. Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is comprised of tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, providing stability and allowing for a range of motion. When these muscles or tendons are damaged, it can result in pain and limited mobility. Rotator cuff injuries can occur due to overuse, trauma, or degeneration, and the pain worsens at night and can prevent you from sleeping on your side.

2. Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It is usually the result of an injury, surgery, or underlying medical issue such as diabetes or thyroid disorders. Patients may experience increased pain at night, making it difficult to rest, and movement can be bothersome due to the limited range of motion.

3. Bursitis

Bursae are small sacs filled with fluid that cushion the joints, including the shoulder. Once these sacs become inflamed, it can bring about discomfort and pain, especially at night. Bursitis can occur due to overuse, injury, or underlying medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

4. Tendinitis

Tendinitis is a condition that causes inflammation and irritation in the tendons, which are the bands of tissue connecting your muscles to your bones. This can be caused by overuse, injury, or conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders. People who suffer from tendinitis experience unbearable pain at night, making it difficult to sleep on their side.

How to Fix Shoulder Pain

1. Improve Sleeping Posture 

The way you sleep can significantly impact shoulder pain. Sleeping on your side can aggravate shoulder pain, especially if you sleep on the affected shoulder. Instead, try sleeping on your back with a pillow supporting your head and neck. If you prefer sleeping sideways, add a pillow between your knees to align your spine.

2. Apply Heat or Ice

Using heat or cold on the affected area can be beneficial in providing relief from discomfort. For a calming effect, try placing a heating pad or warm water bottle on the site for 15-20 minutes before bed. To reduce inflammation, apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes.

3. Stretching and Exercise

By stretching and exercising, you can help increase the flexibility of your shoulders and reduce any pain. Simple stretches like rotating your arms and shoulders in circles can help relax the muscles and relieve tightness. Exercises, such as wall push-ups and resistance bands, can also help strengthen the shoulders and make them more stable.

4. Take Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relief medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be taken to help with pain and inflammation. However, following the instructions carefully and consulting with a doctor before taking any medication is important.

5. Seek Medical Attention

If the pain persists or gets worse despite trying home remedies, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor. The doctor can determine what is causing the pain and offer appropriate treatments, like physical therapy or surgery.


Addressing shoulder pain promptly can prevent chronic discomfort and reduced mobility. The causes of shoulder pain can vary, from injury to poor sleeping posture, and the treatment options range from home remedies to medical intervention. You can effectively manage shoulder pain and improve your quality of life by improving your sleeping posture, applying heat or ice, stretching and exercising, taking pain relievers, and consulting a doctor.

At Grace Medical & Chiropractic, we can help you manage your shoulder pain. Our experienced and knowledgeable chiropractors in North Fort Myers, FL, will assess your condition and create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Call 239-997-8100 to book an appointment.

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