May 23, 2018

How to Sleep with a Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder sleep positions become important the longer the condition persists. As patients tell us, during the day it’s easy to get busy and forget about the pain and focus on work or other necessary activities. But the pain is worse at night. There are various ways to cope and try to get quality sleep when one has frozen shoulder.

There are various frozen shoulder sleep positions. But first, why does frozen shoulder pain get worse at night?

It has to do with blood flow. At night, blood flow of the body slows down. With the blood moving more slowly, water is not filtered as quickly by the kidneys. This causes a generalized retention of water which results in increased internal pressure within the body. So the entire body becomes slightly swollen. All inflammatory conditions–not just frozen shoulder are worsened overnight. For the adhesive capsulitis frozen shoulder sufferer, nighttime also means even more inflammation in the already highly pressurized shoulder joint. This will cause a significant increase in pain. Click here for more information on the causes of frozen shoulder.

So what’s a frozen shoulder sufferer to do to get some decent sleep? They adapt and find frozen shoulder sleep positions.

Frozen Shoulder Sleep Positions

  • One position is to lie on the unaffected side and cuddle into a cushion or pillow. The cushion or pillow needs to be positioned in a way to support the frozen shoulder and keep it from moving during the night.frozen shoulder sleep positions
  • For those who can sleep on their backs throughout the night, it’s helpful to put a pillow behind the back to prevent accidental rolling over onto the frozen shoulder.
  • Others have reported that heating a wheat-filled bag and putting it around the shoulder before sleep helps induce sleep a little quicker and results in a deeper sleep. The heat would dissipate after a few hours but by then you would be deep asleep. The only problem is then rolling over onto the frozen shoulder accidentally and waking up in extreme pain.

Frozen shoulder is truly a painful and debilitating condition. It impacts life in innocuous ways and makes simple activities difficult: putting on a shirt, doing up a bra, lifting a grandchild, etc. But the hardest part can be the lack of sleep. And the lack of sleep wears a person down. It affects the healing and recovery process. It contributes to inflammation. It makes work and daily life even harder.

Byron Elton, of Santa Barbara California, had had enough. After 6 months of insomnia due to his frozen shoulder nerve pain, he took a leap of faith and flew to our Toronto clinic for the MCD Procedure. Here what he has to say about his sleep before and after the MCD Procedure.

(Video Transcript)

You’ve heard of the movie Frozen? Unfrozen! My name is Byron Elton. I come from Santa Barbara, California in the United States. I have a frozen shoulder that I’ve been afflicted with for about six months now and my journey is an interesting one and probably not uncommon. I have tried everything. It is for those who are afflicted with the same situation, a completely debilitating malady. The pain is constant. Obviously your range is limited. Simple tasks like getting dressed, driving a car, shampooing your hair, are not only difficult or impossible but just excruciatingly painful. And it really becomes the case at night during the day you get busy and you can kind of get distracted and then at night you lie down to have a sleep and that’s all you can think about and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in six months. This is the day after my procedure. I had yesterday afternoon and I can only describe it as really life-changing. The staff was extraordinary–I mean from the time I got my x-rays, to the initial anesthesia, to the coming here and being prepped and whatnot it was really top-notch and first-class. And Dr. Austin was amazing. His staff was amazing. I had immediately after (the OAT) flexibility and range that I just had not had in six months. And I would also add this: I’m sore and I have pain but the pain that I had was nerve pain and it was absolutely debilitating. That has been replaced by sore muscle pain and I’ll take that all day long! Last night and your first night after, you get up every hour from 9 o’clock till 9 o’clock at night till 9 o’clock in the morning. But it was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in six months. I’ve tried everything. This is the solution. It’s non-invasive and I couldn’t be happier.

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