27 May 2024
Discover effective ways to alleviate shoulder pain every morning. Learn about adjusting your sleeping position, incorporating stretches and exercises, and choosing the right pillow and mattress. Say goodbye to morning shoulder aches and embrace a pain-free start to your day.

If you wake up with shoulder pain every morning, you’re not alone. It can be a frustrating and uncomfortable way to start your day. However, there are simple yet effective ways to alleviate this pain and improve your mornings. By making a few adjustments to your sleeping position, incorporating gentle stretches and exercises, and considering the right pillow and mattress, you can say goodbye to those morning shoulder aches and embrace a pain-free start to your day.

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain Every Morning

Table of Contents

Causes of Shoulder Pain Every Morning

Sleeping position

One of the potential causes of shoulder pain every morning is your sleeping position. Sleeping on your side with your arm beneath your pillow can put excessive pressure on your shoulder joint, leading to discomfort and pain. It is essential to maintain a neutral spine position while sleeping to minimize stress on your shoulders.

Injury or strain

If you have experienced a recent injury or strain to your shoulder, it could be the reason behind your morning shoulder pain. Sports-related activities, accidents, or repetitive movements that strain the shoulder can lead to inflammation and discomfort, especially upon waking up.


Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can also contribute to shoulder pain in the mornings. The inflammation and deterioration of the shoulder joint due to arthritis can cause stiffness and discomfort, which often worsens after periods of rest.

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. People with frozen shoulder may experience more intense pain and limited mobility in the mornings, making daily activities challenging.


Tendinitis occurs when the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint become inflamed, often due to repetitive overhead movements or overuse. This inflammation can cause significant pain and stiffness, particularly upon waking up in the morning.


Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the bursae, which are small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the shoulder joint. If these bursae become irritated or inflamed, it can lead to shoulder pain, especially when pressure is applied to the joint, such as when lying on your side.

Lack of stretching

Neglecting to stretch or warm up properly before engaging in physical activities can contribute to morning shoulder pain. Improper stretching can lead to muscle imbalances or tightness, causing discomfort and stiffness in the mornings.

Stress and tension

In some cases, shoulder pain in the morning can be a result of stress and tension. Emotional stress and tension in the neck and upper back muscles can radiate to the shoulders, leading to pain and discomfort when you wake up.

Sleeping on a poor mattress

The quality and condition of your mattress can also impact your shoulder health. Sleeping on a poor mattress that does not provide adequate support can lead to improper spinal alignment and increased pressure on the shoulders, resulting in pain and stiffness.

Referred pain

It’s important to note that shoulder pain every morning may not necessarily be caused by an issue with the shoulder itself. Referred pain from other structures, such as the neck or upper back, can manifest as shoulder pain, making it vital to consider a holistic approach when diagnosing and treating the issue.

Diagnosing Shoulder Pain Every Morning

Medical history and physical examination

When seeking a diagnosis for your morning shoulder pain, your doctor will begin by taking a thorough medical history and conducting a physical examination. They will ask about your symptoms, any previous injuries, and assess your shoulder’s range of motion and tenderness.

X-ray or MRI scan

In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may be necessary to obtain detailed images of the shoulder joint and surrounding structures. These tests can help identify any underlying conditions or injuries that may be causing your morning shoulder pain.

Blood tests

Blood tests may be ordered to check for any signs of inflammation or signs of specific conditions like arthritis. These tests can provide valuable information to help narrow down the potential causes of your shoulder pain.

Nerve conduction studies

If nerve involvement is suspected, nerve conduction studies may be conducted to assess the function and health of the nerves in the shoulder and upper extremities. This can help identify any nerve-related issues contributing to your morning shoulder pain.


In some cases, arthroscopy may be recommended to visualize and diagnose any internal shoulder joint problems. During this procedure, a small camera is inserted into the shoulder joint through a small incision, allowing the doctor to examine the structures within the joint and potentially address any issues.

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain Every Morning

Home Remedies for Alleviating Shoulder Pain

Applying heat or cold

Applying heat or cold to the affected shoulder can provide temporary relief from morning pain. Using a heating pad or warm towel can help relax the muscles and increase blood flow, while an ice pack can reduce inflammation and numb the area.

Exercises and stretches

Performing specific exercises and stretches can help alleviate shoulder pain and improve mobility. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist to determine the appropriate exercises for your condition and to ensure proper form to prevent further injury.

Improving sleep posture

Improving your sleep posture can make a significant difference in reducing morning shoulder pain. Try sleeping on your back with a supportive pillow or using a body pillow to keep your shoulders properly aligned. Avoid sleeping on your side with your arm tucked beneath the pillow.

Using the right pillow

Choosing the right pillow can help support your neck and shoulders while you sleep. Look for a pillow that properly aligns your head and neck with your spine, providing adequate support for your shoulders and preventing unnecessary pressure and strain.

Trying over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help reduce inflammation and alleviate morning shoulder pain. It is essential to follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare provider if your pain persists or worsens.

Using topical creams or ointments

Topical creams or ointments containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin can provide temporary relief from morning shoulder pain. These products work by numbing the area and reducing inflammation.

Trying complementary therapies

Complementary therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, or massage therapy may help alleviate morning shoulder pain by promoting relaxation, improving circulation, and reducing muscle tension. Consider seeking out a qualified practitioner to explore these alternative treatment options.

Avoiding activities that aggravate the pain

Identify and avoid activities that worsen your shoulder pain, especially in the morning. Repetitive overhead movements or heavy lifting can strain the shoulder joint and exacerbate the pain. Modify your movements or seek alternative ways to perform tasks to minimize stress on your shoulders.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can alleviate stress on your shoulder joints and reduce morning shoulder pain. Excess weight puts additional pressure on the shoulders, increasing the likelihood of inflammation and discomfort.

Stress management

Managing stress levels can have a positive impact on morning shoulder pain. Explore stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in activities you enjoy to promote relaxation and minimize muscle tension.

Seeking Professional Help

Consulting a doctor

If home remedies and self-care measures do not provide significant relief, it is crucial to consult a doctor. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your shoulder pain and recommend appropriate treatment options based on their diagnosis.

Seeing a physical therapist

Working with a physical therapist can be beneficial in relieving morning shoulder pain. They can develop a tailored exercise and stretching program to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall shoulder function.

Receiving chiropractic care

Chiropractic care focuses on the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including shoulder pain. A chiropractor can use a variety of techniques, such as spinal adjustments and soft tissue therapies, to alleviate morning shoulder pain and improve joint mobility.

Acupuncture or dry needling

Acupuncture and dry needling involve the insertion of thin needles into specific points of the body to promote pain relief and improve overall well-being. These alternative therapies may provide relief for morning shoulder pain and help restore balance within the body.

Considering massage therapy

Massage therapy can help relax the muscles, improve blood flow, and reduce tension in the shoulder area. A skilled massage therapist can target the affected muscles and provide relief from morning shoulder pain.

Exploring orthopedic interventions

If conservative treatments fail to alleviate morning shoulder pain, orthopedic interventions may be considered. This could include corticosteroid injections, platelet-rich plasma therapy, or even surgical interventions like arthroscopic shoulder surgery to address underlying issues.

Trying corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroid injections may be recommended by a healthcare professional to decrease inflammation and relieve severe shoulder pain. These injections can provide temporary relief and allow for a more comfortable range of motion.

Considering surgery as a last resort

In cases where other treatments have been ineffective, surgery may be necessary to address structural issues causing morning shoulder pain. Surgical options will depend on the specific condition or injury and should be discussed thoroughly with a qualified orthopedic surgeon.

Exploring alternative treatments

Alternative treatments like herbal remedies, supplements, or alternative medicine practices may be considered as a last resort. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or integrative medicine specialist before trying any alternative treatments to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Pursuing psychological therapy

In some cases, shoulder pain can be influenced or exacerbated by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Seeking psychological therapy or counseling can help address these underlying issues and manage morning shoulder pain effectively.

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain Every Morning

Preventing Shoulder Pain

Strengthening the shoulder muscles

Regularly engaging in shoulder-strengthening exercises can help prevent shoulder pain. Focus on exercises that target the rotator cuff muscles and surrounding muscles to improve stability and reduce the risk of injury.

Improving posture

Maintaining good posture throughout the day can significantly reduce the risk of developing shoulder pain. Be mindful of your posture while sitting, standing, and performing daily activities, ensuring your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched forward.

Using ergonomic equipment

Using ergonomic equipment, such as an office chair or keyboard, can support proper posture and reduce the strain on your shoulders. Ensure that your work environment is ergonomically designed to minimize the risk of developing shoulder pain.

Taking regular breaks from repetitive tasks

If your work or daily activities involve repetitive shoulder movements, it is important to take regular breaks to rest and stretch your shoulder muscles. Prolonged repetitive movements can lead to overuse injuries and shoulder pain.

Avoiding excessive overhead activities

Try to minimize excessive overhead activities that put strain on your shoulder joints. If such activities are necessary, use proper technique, take breaks, and incorporate regular shoulder stretches to prevent overexertion.

Using proper lifting techniques

Using proper lifting techniques can help prevent shoulder injuries and pain. When lifting heavy objects, bend at your knees and hips, keep the object close to your body, and engage your core and leg muscles rather than relying solely on your shoulders.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle can overall contribute to reducing the risk of shoulder pain. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep can optimize your body’s ability to heal and prevent inflammation.

Ensuring proper nutrition

Consuming a well-balanced diet that includes foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids can support bone and joint health. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy and strong shoulder joints.

Avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect your shoulder health. Both substances can impair the body’s natural healing processes and increase the risk of inflammation and musculoskeletal problems, including shoulder pain.

Regular exercise

Engaging in regular exercise can help maintain overall mobility and muscle strength, including the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Incorporate exercises that promote flexibility, cardiovascular health, and overall fitness to reduce the risk of developing shoulder pain.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Persistent or worsening pain

If your shoulder pain persists or worsens despite trying home remedies and self-care measures, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Persistent or worsening pain may indicate an underlying condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.

Limited range of motion

If you experience a significant limitation in shoulder movement, such as difficulty reaching overhead or behind your back, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional. Limited range of motion can be indicative of structural or functional issues that need to be addressed.

Intense swelling or redness

Significant swelling or redness in the shoulder area should not be ignored. These symptoms may suggest an infection or inflammation requiring immediate medical attention.

Pain accompanied by fever or chills

If shoulder pain is accompanied by fever, chills, or flu-like symptoms, it could be a sign of an underlying infection. Prompt medical evaluation is essential to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Signs of infection

Any signs of infection, such as warmth, discharge, or a foul odor, around the shoulder joint should be evaluated by a medical professional. Infections can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Loss of sensation or weakness

If you experience a loss of sensation, weakness, or tingling in your arm or hand, it may be an indication of nerve involvement. Seeking medical attention is crucial to assess and address any nerve-related issues.

Unexplained weight loss

Unexplained weight loss combined with shoulder pain should be assessed by a healthcare professional. It could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires further investigation.

Difficulty sleeping or performing daily tasks

Shoulder pain that significantly interferes with your ability to sleep or perform your daily tasks needs medical attention. It is important to address the root cause of the pain to improve your quality of life.

Symptoms affecting both shoulders

If you experience shoulder pain in both shoulders, it may be indicative of a systemic condition or injury that requires medical evaluation. Bilateral shoulder pain should not be ignored.

Impact on quality of life

If shoulder pain is impacting your quality of life, causing emotional distress, or hindering your ability to engage in normal activities, seeking professional help is essential. Getting the appropriate treatment can significantly improve your well-being and daily functionality.

In conclusion, shoulder pain every morning can be caused by various factors ranging from sleeping position and injuries to underlying conditions like arthritis or tendinitis. Proper diagnosis is crucial and may involve medical history, physical examinations, imaging tests, and blood tests. While home remedies like heat/cold application, exercises, and improving sleep posture can provide relief, seeking professional help from doctors, physical therapists, or chiropractors may be necessary. Preventive measures such as strengthening shoulder muscles, maintaining good posture, and avoiding excessive strain can help prevent shoulder pain. However, if the shoulder pain persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seeking medical attention becomes crucial to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, taking care of your shoulder health is essential for overall well-being and an active lifestyle.

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