Shoulder pain and sleep solutions

Written by: Mr Nick Ferran
Published: | Updated: 15/02/2019
Edited by: Laura Burgess

When it comes to shoulder problems, most patients who visit leading orthopaedic surgeon Mr Nick Ferran at his London clinic complain about pain and disturbed sleep. The other common nuisances for those who suffer from shoulder pain include difficulty in finding a comfortable sleeping position, and waking up several times as they roll on to the affected side.

Here Mr Ferran explains just how the condition can affect sleep and what patients can do to get a good night’s rest…
 

What are the effects of poor or disturbed sleep?

Disturbed sleep may affect daytime activities and a person’s ability to function at work. Poor sleep can have a negative impact on their quality of life and lead to worsening symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Poor-quality sleep also has an effect on the ability to cope with chronic pain and may cause a vicious cycle of worsening sleep.
 

Which shoulder conditions affect sleep?

Almost all conditions that cause shoulder pain can lead to sleep disturbance. In one study, over 70% of patients with shoulder problems had poor-quality sleep. Rotator cuff tears, shoulder arthritis, and frozen shoulders commonly cause disturbance of sleep with frozen shoulder being the most common culprit.
 

Do other upper limb conditions affect sleep?

Neck pain and nerve irritation can also cause night pain and difficulty in sleeping. Some patients with muscular problems around the shoulder blade can also complain of affected sleep. Nerve compression at the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome) or wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome) can also cause “pins and needles” in the fingers, which wake patients throughout the night. Rarely, infection and some tumours can cause night pain.
 

What can I do about shoulder pain affecting my sleep?

The following are all sleep solutions that may help for a better night’s rest with shoulder pain:

  • Change sleeping position
  • Get a comfortable pillow
  • Try not to lay on the affected shoulder
  • Take painkillers at night before going to bed
     

Learn more about shoulder pain treatment here

However, treating the underlying cause is the best approach. If shoulder pain is affecting your sleep, then do not hesitate to book an appointment for a consultation with a specialist.

By Mr Nick Ferran
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Nicholas Ferran is a leading consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon based in London, who has a special interest in shoulder and elbow surgery. His areas of expertise in treating the shoulder and elbow include fractures and dislocations, soft tissue injuries and degenerative conditions.

Mr Ferran graduated from The University of the West Indies in 2002 and continued his postgraduate training in the UK. His specialist trauma and orthopaedic training was on the east midlands (south) T&O rotation.

He gained additional sub-specialist experience in shoulder and elbow surgery by completing prestigious fellowships at The Prince of Wales and Concord Hospital Sydney, Australia, and at Circle, Nottingham.

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