27 May 2024
Find out how to relieve left shoulder pain after waking up. Discover the causes, prevention methods, exercises, hot/cold therapy, medication options, when to seek medical attention, and home remedies for relief. Plus, learn about alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic care. Say goodbye to morning shoulder blues!

Is waking up with left shoulder pain becoming a regular occurrence for you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people experience discomfort in their left shoulder upon waking up, and it can really put a damper on the start of your day. But fear not, because in this article, we have some fantastic tips on how to relieve that pesky pain and get you back to feeling your best. So sit back, relax, and get ready to wave goodbye to those morning shoulder blues!

Causes of Left Shoulder Pain after Waking Up

Sleeping Position

One of the most common causes of left shoulder pain after waking up is the sleeping position. Sleeping on the same side every night can put excessive pressure on the shoulder joint, leading to discomfort and pain. Additionally, sleeping in an awkward position, such as with the arm underneath the body, can strain the shoulder muscles and cause pain upon waking up.

Injury or Overuse

Another possible cause of left shoulder pain after waking up is injury or overuse. If you have recently experienced a fall, accident, or any sort of trauma to your shoulder, it could result in pain that is more noticeable upon waking up. Similarly, if you engage in activities that involve repetitive shoulder movements or lifting heavy objects, it can lead to overuse and strain on the shoulder joint, causing pain and discomfort in the morning.


Arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can also contribute to left shoulder pain after waking up. These conditions cause inflammation in the joints, including the shoulder joint, which can lead to stiffness and pain. The pain may be worse in the mornings due to inactivity during sleep, causing the joints to become more stiff and painful.

Rotator Cuff Issues

Rotator cuff issues, such as rotator cuff tears or tendonitis, can result in left shoulder pain after waking up. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and help to stabilize it. If there is a tear or inflammation in the rotator cuff, it can cause pain and discomfort, particularly in the morning when the muscles and tendons have been inactive for hours.

Nerve Impingement

Nerve impingement, also known as a pinched nerve, can occur in the shoulder and contribute to left shoulder pain after waking up. This can happen due to various reasons, such as poor sleeping position, muscle imbalances, or even a herniated disc in the neck that radiates pain down to the shoulder. Nerve impingement can cause sharp or shooting pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in the shoulder area.

Preventing Left Shoulder Pain from Sleeping

Choosing the Right Pillow

Selecting the right pillow can make a significant difference in preventing left shoulder pain from sleeping. Ideally, you should choose a pillow that supports your neck and keeps your head aligned with your spine. Additionally, if you are a side sleeper, a pillow that provides proper cushioning and support to your shoulder can help alleviate pressure on the joint.

Finding the Right Mattress

Similar to choosing the right pillow, finding the right mattress is crucial in preventing left shoulder pain from sleeping. A supportive mattress that contours to your body’s natural curves can help distribute your weight evenly and reduce pressure points. It is recommended to choose a medium-firm mattress that provides adequate support for your shoulders and spine.

Sleeping Posture

Adjusting your sleeping posture can also help prevent left shoulder pain. If you tend to sleep on your side, try placing a pillow between your legs to align your spine properly and reduce strain on your shoulder. Additionally, avoid sleeping with your arm positioned under your head or body, as it can lead to pressure on the shoulder joint and cause discomfort.

Using a Supportive Mattress Topper

If you find that your mattress is not providing enough support for your shoulders, using a supportive mattress topper can be a helpful solution. A topper made of memory foam or latex can provide extra cushioning and contouring to relieve pressure on the shoulder while you sleep. It can also help promote proper spinal alignment and reduce the risk of shoulder pain upon waking up.

How to Relieve Left Shoulder Pain after Waking Up

Exercises and Stretches for Left Shoulder Pain Relief

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are a simple yet effective exercise to relieve left shoulder pain. Start by sitting or standing with your arms relaxed at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, then roll them backward. Repeat this exercise for about 10 to 15 times in each direction to help loosen up the muscles and improve shoulder mobility.

Wall Walks

Wall walks can help stretch and strengthen the muscles of the shoulder. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Slowly walk your fingers up the wall, lifting your arms as high as comfortable. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then walk your fingers back down. Repeat this exercise for about 10 repetitions to improve flexibility and alleviate shoulder pain.

Pendulum Stretch

The pendulum stretch is a gentle exercise that can help relieve tension and improve range of motion in the shoulder joint. Stand with your unaffected arm resting on a table or chair for support. Let your affected arm hang down naturally and gently swing it in a circular motion, forward and backward, and side to side. Repeat this exercise for about 10 repetitions in each direction to help loosen up the shoulder muscles.

Doorway Stretch

The doorway stretch is a great way to stretch the chest and shoulder muscles that may be contributing to left shoulder pain. Stand in a doorway with your left arm extended out to the side and resting on the door frame. Slowly lean forward, allowing your body to stretch through the front of the shoulder. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.


Self-massage can help relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation in the shoulder area. Use your opposite hand to gently knead the muscles around your left shoulder, applying gentle pressure and circular motions. Focus on the areas that feel tight or sore. You can also use a tennis ball or foam roller against a wall to massage the muscles of the shoulder and upper back.

Hot and Cold Therapy for Left Shoulder Pain Relief

Heat Therapy

Applying heat packs or using heat therapy can help relax the muscles and alleviate left shoulder pain. You can use a heating pad or a warm towel and apply it to the affected shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes. Heat therapy can improve blood circulation, promote muscle relaxation, and provide temporary relief from shoulder discomfort.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy, such as using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas, can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing relief from left shoulder pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it to the shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cold therapy can help reduce swelling, numb the area, and reduce pain and discomfort.

Alternating Heat and Cold Therapy

Alternating between heat and cold therapy can also be beneficial in relieving left shoulder pain. Start by applying a heat pack to the affected shoulder for about 10 minutes, then switch to a cold pack for another 10 minutes. This contrast therapy can help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and provide a soothing effect to the shoulder joint.

How to Relieve Left Shoulder Pain after Waking Up

Over-the-Counter Medications for Left Shoulder Pain Relief

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs, can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for left shoulder pain. Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen can be taken according to their recommended dosage to help alleviate discomfort and reduce swelling in the shoulder joint.

Topical Pain Relievers

Topical pain relievers, such as creams or gels containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin, can be applied directly to the affected shoulder for localized pain relief. These products work by numbing the area and providing a cooling or warming sensation, which can help alleviate shoulder pain temporarily.

Muscle Relaxants

If left shoulder pain is caused by muscle tension or spasms, muscle relaxants may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to help relieve muscle tightness and promote relaxation. These medications should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as they can have side effects and may not be appropriate for everyone.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Left Shoulder Pain

Persistent or Severe Pain

If you experience persistent or severe left shoulder pain that does not improve with home remedies or over-the-counter medications, it is advisable to seek medical attention. This could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.

Limited Range of Motion

If you notice a significant decrease in your shoulder’s range of motion, such as difficulty lifting your arm or reaching behind your back, it is important to consult a healthcare provider. Limited range of motion can be a sign of an injury or shoulder condition that may require specialized treatment.

Signs of Infection

If you develop signs of infection along with left shoulder pain, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pus-like discharge, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. This could indicate an infection in the shoulder joint, which requires prompt evaluation and treatment to prevent further complications.

Accompanied by Chest Pain

If left shoulder pain is accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of a heart-related issue, such as a heart attack. In such cases, it is essential to seek emergency medical care immediately.

How to Relieve Left Shoulder Pain after Waking Up

Home Remedies for Left Shoulder Pain Relief

Resting and Avoiding Overuse

One of the simplest and most effective home remedies for left shoulder pain relief is to rest the affected shoulder and avoid overusing it. Give your shoulder time to heal by avoiding activities that may exacerbate the pain or cause further strain on the joint.

Applying Heat or Cold Packs

As mentioned earlier, heat or cold therapy can provide relief from left shoulder pain. Applying a heat pack or cold pack to the affected shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time can help reduce inflammation, soothe the muscles, and alleviate pain.

Using a Shoulder Brace or Support

Wearing a shoulder brace or support can provide stability and support to the shoulder joint, which may help reduce pain and promote healing. These braces or supports are designed to restrict certain movements and provide compression to the shoulder, aiding in pain relief.

Elevating the Arm

Elevating the affected arm can help reduce swelling and ease left shoulder pain. Use a pillow or cushion to prop up your arm while sitting or lying down. This postural adjustment helps enhance blood circulation and reduce fluid buildup in the shoulder.

Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can provide temporary relief from left shoulder pain. It is important to follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult a healthcare provider if pain persists or worsens.

Alternative Therapies for Left Shoulder Pain Relief


Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points of the body to stimulate healing. It has been shown to provide pain relief for various conditions, including left shoulder pain. Consulting a licensed acupuncturist can help determine if acupuncture is suitable for your specific needs.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including shoulder pain. Chiropractors use manual techniques, such as spinal adjustments or manipulations, to relieve pain and improve joint function. Seeking the expertise of a qualified chiropractor can help alleviate left shoulder pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be highly beneficial for left shoulder pain relief, especially if the pain is related to an injury or muscle imbalances. A physical therapist can assess your condition and develop a personalized exercise and stretching program to improve strength, flexibility, and overall shoulder function.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation in the shoulder area. A qualified massage therapist can use various techniques, such as deep tissue massage or Swedish massage, to target the muscles and tissues surrounding the left shoulder, providing pain relief and improving overall well-being.

Tips for Better Sleep with Left Shoulder Pain

Sleeping on the Opposite Side

If left shoulder pain is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, try sleeping on your right side or on your back instead. This can help reduce pressure on the affected shoulder and alleviate discomfort while you sleep.

Using Body Pillows

Body pillows can provide additional support and help maintain proper alignment while sleeping. Place a body pillow between your legs when sleeping on your side to reduce strain on the shoulder joint. Alternatively, hug a body pillow in front of you while sleeping on your back to provide support to the upper body.

Pillow Between the Arms

If you prefer to sleep on your side, placing a pillow between your arms can help alleviate left shoulder pain by keeping the shoulder in a more neutral position. This can help reduce strain on the joint and provide relief from discomfort.

Avoiding Heavy Meals and Stimulants

Consuming heavy meals or stimulants, such as caffeine or nicotine, close to bedtime can interfere with sleep quality and exacerbate left shoulder pain. Avoid these substances several hours before going to bed to promote a more restful night’s sleep.

Creating a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help signal to your body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Engage in calming activities, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, to promote better sleep and alleviate left shoulder pain.


Left shoulder pain after waking up can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. However, by understanding the potential causes and implementing preventive measures, such as choosing the right pillow and mattress, practicing proper sleeping posture, and using supportive accessories, you can significantly reduce the chances of experiencing shoulder pain. Additionally, incorporating exercises, stretches, hot and cold therapy, and over-the-counter medications for pain relief can be beneficial. If home remedies do not provide adequate relief or if the pain persists or worsens, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. Remember, proper self-care and finding an individualized approach that works for you can help improve sleep quality and alleviate left shoulder pain.

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