One of the most common possible causes for nighttime shoulder pain is an injury to the rotator cuff, which is a set of four muscles that provide stability to the shoulder itself. The rotator cuff also helps in various shoulder joint movements, such as the lifting of the arms. It is highly susceptible to injury. Injuries can occur due to overuse of the muscles, a bad fall or a blow to the shoulder. Those who play sports such as racket ball are very prone to rotator cuff injuries. These muscles can also be easily strained by such repetitive tasks as throwing a ball, swimming or painting the ceiling, as all involve repeated shoulder movements.
Another possible cause of sever shoulder pain in the middle of the night can be shoulder bursitis, which is caused due to the inflammation in the fluid filled bursa sac. Factors that can lead to inflammation of the bursa and the increase of its fluid content include direct injury to the shoulder, excessive use of the shoulders and aging to name a few. Tendonitis, arthritis or dislocation of the shoulder joint are other possible caused of shoulder pain as well.
Of course the typical symptoms of these conditions are a constant, dull pain that is often accompanied by stiffness or swelling in the affected shoulder. Changing sleeping positions or attempting to move the arms up or down can quickly intensify the pain. If the pain worsens when you raise your hand, it might be a clue that the tendons are badly compressed. Intense pain in the shoulder might also lead to numbness and tingling in the arms and fingers as well.
How to Treat Nighttime Shoulder Pain
If a person is experiencing bad nighttime shoulder pain, they should visit a doctor who is likely to give medications to treat the pain and help the patient sleep as a first line of defense. There are two primary kinds of medications that doctors usually administer for this type of condition. First, an anti-inflammatory drug is used to temporarily help provide relief from the pain. Next, a sleep aid is often prescribed to help the patient catch up on sleep.
The best way to get a proper diagnosis of recurrent shoulder pain is through the help of x-rays and a MRI scan. These tests can detect damage in the structural components of the shoulder. Avoiding strenuous activities and giving the injured shoulder rest is crucial to recovery. Cold compresses using ice can be helpful. To create the cold compress, take ice cubes and wrap in a towel, then rub gently on the painful shoulder for 15-20 minutes. This should help with the pain and swelling and allow you to fall asleep more easily. Warning, never place ice directly on the skin. For a rotator cuff injury the best treatment is physical therapy.