If you suffer from rotator cuff pain, you’re well aware of the fact that it’s often worse at night. We need our 7-9 hours of sleep in order to function properly, but if pain is keeping you up, your day is impacted. Fortunately, there are things that you can do in order to get better sleep even with rotator cuff pain.
What Is Your Rotator Cuff?
Your arm is kept in the shoulder socket by your rotator cuff. Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that come together as tendons to make a covering around the head of the humerus. It attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate your arm.
The bursa (lubricating sac) between the rotator cuff and bone on top of the shoulder allows tendons to glide when you move your arm. This can become painful/inflamed when the tendons are damaged.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Pain?
When the tendons pull away from the bone, either partially or completely, this is a tear. The pain can be acute or chronic. It’s most common in the dominant arm. If you have a tear in one shoulder, it’s more likely for you to suffer from rotator cuff pain in the other shoulder too.
Rotator cuff pain is more common in adults over the age of 40, due to age-related wear and tear, decreased blood flow, and bone spurs.
However, it can also occur in younger people, especially those who use their arms a lot or who are injured. This can happen due to poor posture, smoking, family history, certain occupations, and certain sports.
Symptoms Of Rotator Cuff Pain
Throughout the day, you may experience:
- Difficulty raising the affected arm
- Popping/clicking sounds in the shoulder
- Shoulder weakness
- Pain at rest
- Worsened pain at night
Night-time rotator cuff pain is worsened if you lie on the affected shoulder. It’s important to seek out treatment if you suffer from this, as ignoring it and continuing to use the shoulder makes it worse.
Why Is Rotator Cuff Pain Worse At Night?
It’s very common for pain in your shoulder to be worse at night. Why this is is still a bit of a mystery, but healthcare professionals have their theories.
Some of the theories for why your pain is worse at night include:
- Inflammation from the injury
- The area is compressed when you lie down
- Your body is quieter at night, making you more likely to feel pain and aches
- Sleeping positions and gravity increase pulling/tugging on the tear
- Blood flor
- Muscle tension
Indeed, some people don’t even feel that much pain during the day, but then feel excruciating pain at night. Regardless of whether the pain is majorly impacting your life or it’s just keeping you from getting better sleep, seeking treatment is a must. Your doctor will diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment methods for you, such as chiropractic care, avoiding activities that aggravate the shoulder, steroids, and surgery in the worst of cases.
How To Get Better Sleep With Rotator Cuff Pain
While you’re looking into treatment, there are some different things that you can try in order to get better sleep. These are as follows.
Try A Different Sleeping Position
A different sleeping position, like on your opposite side or reclined, may help. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, flat on your back, or on the side with the injury, as these all increase the strain on your shoulder.
Prop The Shoulder Up
Try sleeping with your shoulder propped up, by pillows or folded blankets, as this helps prevent strain on the shoulder.
Build A Pillow Wall
If you’re someone who moves around when you sleep, try building a wall out of blankets or pillows to keep yourself from rolling onto the side with the injury.
Stretch Before Bed
Stretching helps with the healing process. It can be helpful to stretch and loosen up your body before you go to bed. Ask your doctor or chiropractor for exercises to help you.
Plus, stretching and strengthening exercises can prevent future tears. This is because the more flexible your muscles and tendons are, the less likely they are to tear. Stiffness = more pain.
Try Hot/Cold Therapy
Cold is better for acute tears and injuries while warmth is better for chronic pain from wear and tear. Try doing this for 15-20 minutes before going to bed. Ensure that you wrap what you use in a towel in order to avoid damaging your skin.
Painkillers can manage swelling and ease pain. Check with your doctor before taking any medication. Painkillers aren’t typically meant to be taken on a daily basis, as taking them too often can lead to side effects and other problems. So, if you find yourself reaching for them more often than not, talk to your doctor about the right options for you.
Try A New Mattress Or Pillow
Your mattress and pillows play a significant role in your sleep. If they are not supportive, this can prevent you from getting better sleep by increasing the stress on your body.
If you suffer from rotator cuff pain, you may think it’s best to avoid exercise. In general, regular exercise helps blood circulation and sleep time and quality. However, you don’t want to do any exercises that would worsen your pain. Talk to your doctor or chiropractor about appropriate exercises for you.
See A Chiropractor
Chiropractors help with rehabilitation, joint mobility, pain management, and symptom relief. They can recommend sleeping strategies for better sleep and alleviating your pain.