Pain Conditions

Search Pain Conditions by Body Map

Enquiry Form

Error: Contact form not found.


Item Added

Success: You have added product to your shopping cart!


Clinical Interest:

Clinic Location:

Doctor’s Consultation Hours


Home > Understanding and Alleviating Shoulder Pain at Night

Our News

Understanding and Alleviating Shoulder Pain at Night


Last Updated on November 21, 2023

Shoulder pain, when it strikes, can be an unrelenting challenge to your daily life, but its impact can become even more pronounced when it intensifies during the night. The quiet darkness should be a time of rest and rejuvenation, yet for those wrestling with night-time shoulder pain, it often transforms into a battleground of discomfort. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of night-time shoulder pain, peering into the depths of its complexities to illuminate the path to relief. 

Our mission is twofold: first, to unearth the roots of this nocturnal agony by dissecting its causes, from the common culprits like poor sleep posture and bursitis to more insidious factors like tendonitis and rotator cuff injuries. Second, armed with this understanding, we aim to equip you with a diverse arsenal of effective remedies and strategies. These solutions are not just a salve for the pain but a beacon of hope for those yearning for uninterrupted sleep and restored well-being.  

What is Shoulder Pain? 

Before we explore the specific challenges of nighttime shoulder pain, let’s first understand what shoulder pain entails. 

Shoulder Pain Defined 

Shoulder pain is a nuanced and multifaceted issue that demands our attention. It originates in the intricate shoulder joint, where the humerus, clavicle, and scapula converge. This joint’s remarkable range of motion allows us to perform a wide array of tasks, from reaching for an object on a high shelf to executing a powerful throw. However, this very complexity renders the shoulder susceptible to a host of conditions that can trigger discomfort and pain. From muscular strains to tendonitis, bursitis, rotator cuff tears, and even arthritis, the sources of shoulder pain are diverse and can be brought on by various factors, including abnormal sleeping positions, overuse, trauma, or degenerative changes. 

The Impact and Implications 

Shoulder pain is not merely a physical sensation; it can have profound consequences on daily life. It can hinder our ability to perform routine activities, disrupt peaceful sleep, and curtail our range of motion. Something as routine as turning in bed can become a painful ordeal for those grappling with shoulder discomfort. Thus, understanding the intricacies of shoulder pain is not only a matter of medical knowledge but also a crucial step toward enhancing one’s quality of life. It sets the stage for effective management and treatment, allowing individuals to regain their independence and overall well-being while overcoming the unique challenges of night-time shoulder pain. 

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain While Sleeping 

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain during the night can be a frustrating and debilitating experience. To gain a deeper insight into the common causes of night-time shoulder discomfort, let’s take a closer look at each contributing factor: 

Sleep Position 

The position in which you sleep can greatly influence the likelihood of waking up with shoulder pain. When you sleep on your side, especially if you favour one side consistently, it can lead to increased pressure and compression on that shoulder. Over time, this can result in discomfort and pain. Additionally, sleeping with your arm under your pillow or body can cause strain on the shoulder joint, exacerbating the issue. 

  • Possible Triggers: Sleeping on one side for extended periods, improper pillow support, or sleeping with your arm under your body. 
  • Common Symptoms: Waking up with aching shoulders, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the affected shoulder. Over time, this may lead to chronic discomfort. 

Shoulder Bursitis 

Shoulder bursitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the bursa sacs located in the shoulder joint. These sacs act as cushions between the bones and tendons, reducing friction during movement.  

When they become inflamed, it leads to pain, swelling, and restricted mobility. While sleeping, the pressure exerted on the shoulder can exacerbate the discomfort, making it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. 

  • Possible Triggers: Repetitive overhead movements, trauma, or underlying conditions like arthritis. 
  • Common Symptoms: Pain in the shoulder that worsens when lying on it, tenderness, swelling, and difficulty lifting your arm or performing overhead tasks. The pain may be sharp and constant. 


Tendonitis is another prevalent cause of shoulder pain during sleep. It involves the inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder joint, often brought on by overuse or repetitive motions. When you sleep, the shoulder remains in a fixed position for an extended period. If the tendons are already inflamed, this immobility can intensify the pain, especially when you attempt to change positions or move your arm. 

  • Possible Triggers: Overuse, repetitive motions, poor posture, or sudden increases in physical activity. 
  • Common Symptoms: Pain that worsens at night or when attempting to sleep on the affected side, tenderness, swelling, and aching in the shoulder. Movements involving the affected arm can be painful. 

Rotator Cuff Injury or Tear 

Shoulder Pain 

A rotator cuff injury or tear is a more severe and painful condition that can significantly disrupt your sleep. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint. An injury or tear in this area can result from sudden trauma or long-term wear and tear. When you lie down to sleep, the weight of your arm can put pressure on the damaged area, causing intense night-time pain and potentially preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. 

  • Possible Triggers: Trauma from a fall, repetitive strain, or age-related degeneration. 
  • Common Symptoms: Intense, sharp pain that can be excruciating at night, especially when lying on the affected shoulder. Weakness and limited range of motion in the shoulder are also typical. You may hear or feel a popping sensation when moving your arm. 

Understanding these underlying factors is crucial in addressing night-time shoulder pain. Depending on the specific cause, treatment options may include changes in sleep posture, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.  

Effective Home Remedies for Relieving Night-time Shoulder Pain 

Shoulder pain at night can be a relentless companion, but the good news is that there are effective home remedies that can offer much-needed relief. Some highly recommended approaches for managing night-time shoulder pain are Heat and Cold Therapy, and adjustments to one’s sleep position. 

Heat and Cold Therapy 

Heat and cold therapy, time-tested methods, offer a path to regaining peaceful nights and restorative rest. 

Heat Therapy 

Applying heat to the affected shoulder can work wonders in soothing night-time pain. A warm compress or heating pad can help relax tense muscles and increase blood flow to the area. This, in turn, can alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation, making it easier to find a comfortable sleep position. Be sure to use a towel or cloth to protect your skin from direct heat, and limit heat application to 15-20 minutes at a time. 

Cold Therapy 

Shoulder Pain

Cold therapy can be equally effective, especially when inflammation is a significant contributor to your shoulder pain. Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the painful area can reduce swelling and numb the pain. It’s important to note that you should never apply ice directly to your skin to avoid frostbite. Cold therapy is typically applied for 15-20 minutes. You can alternate between heat and cold treatments for added relief. 

Sleep Position 

Your chosen sleep position can either exacerbate discomfort or provide much-needed relief. Let’s explore the nuances of sleep positions and how you can position yourself for restful nights and pain-free mornings. 

  • Back Sleeping: One of the most effective ways to alleviate night-time shoulder pain is to sleep on your back. This position evenly distributes your body weight and minimizes pressure on your shoulder joint. To enhance comfort, consider using a small pillow to support your neck and keep your spine aligned. 
  • Side Sleeping with Proper Pillow Support: If you prefer sleeping on your side, choose the side that is less painful, and use a contoured or orthopedic pillow to support your head and neck. Place a pillow between your knees to maintain proper spinal alignment, which can alleviate stress on your shoulders. 
  • Avoid Sleeping on the Painful Side: If one shoulder is particularly painful, it’s essential to avoid sleeping on that side. Sleeping on the painful shoulder can exacerbate discomfort and hinder the healing process. Opt for the opposite side or try back sleeping instead. 

By integrating these home remedies into your nighttime routine, you can take significant steps towards mitigating shoulder pain and achieving restful, pain-free nights. Remember that individual responses may vary, so it may be beneficial to experiment with these approaches to find the combination that works best for you. 


Is It a Sign of a More Serious Issue? 

Night-time shoulder pain, while often benign, can sometimes be a manifestation of a more serious underlying issue. Here are some conditions that may be associated with night-time shoulder pain and require further investigation: 

Shoulder Pain

  • Rotator Cuff Tears: Severe rotator cuff tears may cause nighttime pain that wakes you from sleep. A medical evaluation, often including imaging like an MRI, is necessary to assess the extent of the tear and determine the appropriate treatment. 
  • Heart-Related Issues: In some cases, shoulder pain can be caused by pain from heart-related problems, such as angina or a heart attack. If you have a history of heart issues or experience chest pain along with shoulder pain, seek immediate medical attention. 
  • Gallbladder or Liver Problems: Pain originating from the gallbladder or liver can sometimes be felt in the shoulder area. If you have other symptoms like digestive issues, jaundice, or abdominal pain, consult a doctor to investigate these organs. 
  • Lung Conditions: Lung conditions like pneumonia or lung cancer can cause referred pain to the shoulder. If you have respiratory symptoms or a history of lung problems, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis. 

While some night-time shoulder pain can be managed at home, persistent, severe, or accompanied by concerning symptoms warrants prompt medical evaluation. Don’t hesitate to consult a doctor when in doubt, as early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in managing any underlying issues and ensuring your overall health and well-being. 

What Can I Do to Help Reduce My Night Pain? 

If you find that home remedies alone aren’t providing sufficient relief for your night-time shoulder pain, there are medical treatments and other interventions available to address the issue. Here are some options to consider: 

NSAIDs Medication 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve swelling, aches and pain. These medications help relieve pain by effectively stopping tissue inflammation, making it easier to sleep comfortably.  

Minimally Invasive Treatments 

For more severe cases of night-time shoulder pain, minimally invasive treatments may be recommended. These innovative options aim to address the root causes of the pain and promote healing. Here, we’ll focus on two of these treatments: 

Coreflex Injections 

Coreflex injections involve the injection of medications or solutions directly into the affected shoulder joint. These injections contains both a local anaesthetic and an anti-inflammatory agent. Coreflex injections can provide immediate pain relief by numbing the injection site for those with persistent nighttime shoulder pain. For detailed information, visit our page. 

Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP) Therapy 

Shoulder Pain

PRP therapy is a regenerative approach that uses the patient’s own blood components to promote healing. A small amount of the patient’s blood is processed to concentrate the platelets, which are rich in growth factors. The concentrated PRP is then injected into the shoulder joint to stimulate tissue repair and reduce inflammation. PRP therapy is a promising option for individuals seeking long-lasting relief from night-time shoulder pain. Find more details of PRP on our page. 


When to See a Pain Doctor? 

While home remedies can be effective in managing night-time shoulder pain, it’s crucial to recognize when it’s time to seek the assistance of a Pain Doctor. Here are some key indicators that should prompt you to consult a doctor: 

  • Persistent or Worsening Pain: If your shoulder pain persists for an extended period, worsens despite home treatments, or becomes increasingly severe, it’s a clear sign that you should see a doctor. Persistent pain may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical evaluation. 
  • Limited Range of Motion: It’s a problem if your shoulder pain prevents you from moving your arm or shoulder. A medical evaluation is necessary to determine the severity of the issue if performing routine tasks becomes challenging due to limited mobility. 
  • Trauma or Injury: You must see a doctor right away if your shoulder pain at night is brought on by a recent trauma or injury, such as a fall or accident. Injury-related structural damage necessitates immediate repair in order to avoid further complications. 
  • Numbness or Tingling: If you experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or hand in addition to shoulder pain, it could indicate nerve involvement. Nerve-related issues require a thorough evaluation by a medical expert. 
  • Systemic Symptoms: It may indicate a more serious underlying condition if you experience systemic symptoms like fever, unexplained weight loss, or night sweats in addition to shoulder pain. To rule out serious health issues in such situations, seeking medical advice is essential. 

Our Pain Doctors have extensive knowledge in diagnosing and treating different shoulder pain issues. They can assess the underlying cause of your shoulder pain and suggest suitable treatments. 



Night-time shoulder pain can significantly impact your quality of life. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and effective remedies, you can take proactive steps to manage and alleviate this discomfort. Whether through lifestyle adjustments, home remedies, or medical interventions, there are solutions available to help you enjoy restful nights and pain-free days. Don’t let shoulder pain disrupt your life—take action today for a healthier, more comfortable tomorrow. 


Categories: Shoulder Pain
Shoulder Pain
Read More About

Get Your Pain Resolved

Send your enquiries or consult our pain experts today.

Enquire Now


Subscribe to Newsletter

Get health tips from doctors and experts straight into your inbox

Translate »