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How to Sleep Comfortably After Shoulder Surgery

If you have just had shoulder surgery, you may be aware of the fact that you have more pain in bed at night. There are several reasons for this: when we sleep, it is normal to bend on one or both hands under a pillow, or sleep on one side, or move naturally to the fetal position. All of these positions exert excessive pressure on your shoulders. If you sleep on an old mattress or a mattress that doesn’t give you the support your body needs, you can make the pain worse.

Obviously, you cannot avoid sleep after shoulder surgery. Activities that we don’t think about before surgery will be painful for many patients after shoulder surgery. Sleep is one of the most important components not only of our daily routine but also of the healing process. For this reason, we have compiled some of our most common suggestions and tips for sleeping after shoulder surgery.

However, there are some guidelines and tips that will allow you to sleep more comfortably after shoulder surgery, and this article will help you.

Sleeping Tip #1:

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Sleep in recline position: If you can, sleep on a recliner or reclined position for a few weeks after surgery. If you don’t have a sofa, you can use pillows on the bed. You can even buy a 45-degree wedge, online or at the medical store. Patients with single shoulder surgery have to sleep at an incline for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
The best position for most people with shoulder surgery is the reclined position because it reduces tension in the shoulder joint and the surrounding soft tissue. Lie on a reclined position on the bed with a few pillows to strengthen your lower and middle back. This might be more comfortable than leaning back in bed with a pillow.

Sleep on your uninjured side: If you try this position, put a few pillows behind you, so you don’t turn around at night. Use a soft pillow, so your hands don’t fall out and don’t curl.

  • Avoid lying on your back, because this position is often the most annoying for the shoulder after surgery.
  • If the pain or stiffness in your shoulder subsides over time, you can slowly lower yourself to a more flat (more horizontal) position if you feel comfortable at night.
  • In terms of the period, you will most likely need to sleep in a semi-lying position for six weeks or more, depending on the type of surgery you underwent.

Sleeping Tip #2:

Ice the shoulder: Apply ice or cold compresses to the injured shoulder before going to sleep to reduce inflammation. Wrap the package in a towel and hold it on your shoulder for up to 30 minutes. When it’s time to go to sleep, think about your sleeping position as described above.

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Apply an ice pack before going to bed. Treating shoulder pain during sleep makes it easier to fall asleep. This is important so that your body’s healing process works with maximum efficiency.

  • Applying an ice pack to an inflamed shoulder about 30 minutes before bedtime can relieve inflammation, numb the pain, and provide temporary relief, which is an important factor for healthy sleep.
  • Don’t rub something cold on your sore shoulder without wrapping it in a thin towel or towel to avoid frostbite or irritation.
  • Hold crushed ice or ice cubes on your shoulder for about 15 minutes, or until the area feels numb, you no longer feel the pain.
  • If you don’t have ice, use a bag of frozen vegetables or fruit from your freezer.
    The benefits of cold therapy can last between 15 and 60 minutes. This is usually enough time to fall asleep.

Sleeping Tip #3:

Wear sling during the day: After shoulder surgery, your surgeon will recommend you with a shoulder sling that you can wear during the day for several weeks. The sling of the hand supports the shoulder and counteracts the effects of gravity, which exacerbates postoperative shoulder pain. Carrying a sling in your hand during day time reduces swelling and pain in the shoulder at the end of the day and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

Wear slings when you are in bed: In addition to wearing a sling during the day, consider wearing it for several weeks at night. If you put your arms in a sling on a bed, your shoulders can remain stable while sleeping. With a sling on your arm that holds and supports your shoulder, you don’t need to worry about your arm moving and causing pain around you while you sleep. This helps keep the arm stable during healing. It also helps prevent you from unknowingly placing your hand in an uncomfortable position while you sleep. Even if you wear a hand sling on the bed, don’t sleep on the shoulder that has surgery because compression can cause pain and inflammation that can wake you up.

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Sleeping Tip #4:

Follow your doctor’s instructions: This includes taking medication as directed, immobilizing the arms during the day, and resting.

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Take medication as prescribed: Another important aspect in the treatment of postoperative shoulder pain before going to sleep is taking prescriptions, as recommended by your surgeon. Either analgesic or anti-inflammatory, take the recommended dose about 30 minutes before bedtime because this should be enough time to feel the benefits and feel comfortable in bed.

  • Take your medicines with a little food before going to bed to avoid stomach irritation. Some fruit, toast, cereal, or yoghurt are good choices.
  • Never take drugs with alcoholic drinks like beer, wine because the risk of toxic reactions in your body increases. Use water or juice instead.
  • Most patients who undergo shoulder surgery need strong medicines which they need for at least several days and sometimes two weeks.

Sleeping Tip #5:

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Support your arms with a pillow: Support your injured arm in bed and upright with a medium-sized pillow under your elbow and arm you can do this with or without a sling. This places the shoulder in a position that promotes good blood flow to the muscles of the joint and surrounding areas, which is important for healing. Remember to always fold your elbows and pillows firmly under your arms.

Sleeping Tip #6:

Take a walk: If you haven’t had major surgery that requires bed rest, walking will help improve blood circulation.

What to do if you still experience shoulder pain after a few weeks?

Talk to your doctor about physiotherapy, alternatives to pain management, or to determine whether there are complications such as infection or nerve damage.
You may benefit from postoperative shoulder exercises. However, be sure to consult with your doctor before doing so.


We hope our tips for sleeping after shoulder surgery will help your recovery. Sometimes it can take several months for the sleeping discomfort to disappear completely, but don’t give up! Continue to work to increase your freedom of movement and surround yourself with people who encourage, relax, and support you as you strive to return to more normal sleeping habits.

We want you to live your life in full swing. If shoulder pain interferes with your daily activities, let us help you. We will develop a treatment plan that best suits your lifestyle and make you do the things you love more. Make an appointment today at 91 9959588389 Hyderabad Shoulder Clinic with Dr Chandra Sekhar.

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