27 May 2024
Discover the causes of arm and shoulder pain after sleeping. From improper sleeping positions to medical conditions, learn how to alleviate and prevent discomfort.

Do you ever wake up in the morning with a lingering ache in your arm and shoulder? If so, you’re not alone! Many people experience arm and shoulder pain after sleeping, but the causes behind this discomfort can vary. From poor sleeping positions to overuse of muscles during the day, there are several factors that could be contributing to your pain. In this article, we’ll explore some of the common causes of arm and shoulder pain after sleeping, and provide some tips on how to alleviate and prevent this discomfort. So, let’s dive in and discover the solutions to a more restful night’s sleep!

Causes of Arm and Shoulder Pain After Sleeping

Causes of Arm and Shoulder Pain After Sleeping

Improper sleeping position

One of the most common causes of arm and shoulder pain after sleeping is an improper sleeping position. When you sleep in a position that puts excessive pressure or strain on your arms or shoulders, it can lead to pain and discomfort. For example, sleeping on your side with your arm tucked under your body or sleeping with your arm above your head for a prolonged period of time can cause your shoulder and arm muscles to become strained or compressed. To alleviate this type of pain, try to find a more neutral sleeping position that provides proper support for your arm and shoulder.

Muscle strain or tension

Muscle strain or tension is another potential cause of arm and shoulder pain after sleeping. This often occurs when you engage in activities or positions during the day that put excessive stress on your muscles, such as heavy lifting or repetitive motions. When you sleep, your muscles can remain tense, leading to discomfort and pain upon waking. To prevent muscle strain or tension-related pain, it’s important to practice proper posture and body mechanics throughout the day, and to engage in stretching and relaxation exercises before bedtime.

Causes of Arm and Shoulder Pain After Sleeping

Nerve compression

Nerve compression can also contribute to arm and shoulder pain after sleeping. When a nerve in your arm or shoulder becomes compressed or pinched, it can cause pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. This can be exacerbated by certain sleeping positions that put pressure on the nerves, such as sleeping on your arm or shoulder. If you suspect that nerve compression is the cause of your pain, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Rotator cuff injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are a common source of arm and shoulder pain, and they can be especially noticeable after a night of sleep. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to keep it stable. Injuries to the rotator cuff, such as tears or strains, can lead to pain and limited range of motion. Sleeping in certain positions, particularly those that put pressure on the injured area, can exacerbate the pain. If you suspect a rotator cuff injury, it is important to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and appropriate treatment, which may include physical therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.

Causes of Arm and Shoulder Pain After Sleeping


Arthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the joints, can also contribute to arm and shoulder pain after sleeping. There are several types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder joint, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joint, which can be worsened after a night of rest. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional are crucial in managing arthritis-related pain and preventing further joint damage.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. It occurs when the tissues surrounding the joint become thickened and tight, limiting the shoulder’s range of motion. People with frozen shoulder often experience increased pain and stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as during sleep. Treatment for frozen shoulder typically involves a combination of physical therapy, pain management techniques, and, in some cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery.


Bursitis occurs when the small fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which provide cushioning between bones, tendons, and muscles, become inflamed. In the shoulder, bursitis can cause pain and limited range of motion, particularly after sleeping. The pain is often worse when you try to lift your arm or perform overhead movements. Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers are commonly recommended for managing bursitis symptoms. In some cases, a healthcare professional may recommend corticosteroid injections or physical therapy to reduce inflammation and restore normal shoulder function.


Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, can also contribute to arm and shoulder pain after sleeping. This condition often occurs due to overuse or repetitive movements that put stress on the tendons in the shoulder. Sleeping in positions that aggravate the inflamed tendons can lead to increased pain and discomfort. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications are typically recommended for treating tendonitis. Physical therapy may also be beneficial in rehabilitating the shoulder and preventing future flare-ups.

Shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement is a condition that occurs when the tendons or bursa in the shoulder impinge or rub against the bones, causing pain and inflammation. Sleeping in certain positions that compress the shoulder joint can worsen these symptoms. Treatment for shoulder impingement often involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in some cases, corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention to relieve the impingement and restore normal shoulder function.

Sleep disorders

In some cases, arm and shoulder pain after sleeping may be a symptom of an underlying sleep disorder. Conditions such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or periodic limb movement disorder can cause muscle and joint pain, including in the arms and shoulders. If you consistently experience pain in your arms and shoulders after sleeping, it may be beneficial to consult with a sleep specialist to determine if a sleep disorder is contributing to your discomfort.

In conclusion, arm and shoulder pain after sleeping can have various causes, ranging from improper sleeping positions to underlying medical conditions. It is important to pay attention to your sleeping habits and seek medical attention if the pain persists or worsens. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain and taking appropriate measures, you can find relief and improve your quality of sleep.

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