How to Sleep with A Frozen Shoulder Pain at Night

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 9 November 2022| min read
How to Sleep with A Frozen Shoulder Pain at Night

Quick Summary

How to Sleep with a Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder can disrupt one's everyday activities and possibly won't let one enjoy a decent night's sleep. Many people report nighttime pain or trouble finding a proper sleeping posture due to a frozen shoulder. This may negatively affect one's sleep routine and make one irritable, furious, and short-tempered. Thus it's necessary to know about coping methods to get frozen shoulder pain relief at night.

Here are some practical ways to sleep with a frozen shoulder:

  • Try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your arm to support it.
  • If you find it more comfortable to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your arm and body to keep it in place.
  • Avoid sleeping on your shoulder that is affected by frozen shoulder.
  • Use a heating pad or cold compress on your shoulder before bed to help relieve pain.

If you have tried these tips and are still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor

A frozen shoulder can disrupt one's everyday activities and possibly won’t let one enjoy a decent night's sleep. Many people report nighttime pain or trouble finding a proper sleeping posture due to a frozen shoulder. This may negatively affect one’s sleep routine and make one irritable, furious, and short-tempered. Thus it’s necessary to know about coping methods to get frozen shoulder pain relief at night. 

If you are wondering how to sleep with a frozen shoulder, you've come to the right place. The blog will discuss practical ways to sleep with a frozen shoulder.

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

The shoulder joint is enclosed within a covering of connective tissues. When this covering is thickened, the shoulder movement gets restricted, resulting in a frozen shoulder. There can be a variety of reasons behind this. Such as:
  1. Long-term restricted movement of shoulders. This might occur due to other problems, like a broken arm, rotator cuff injury, etc. 
  2. Strain from carrying a big object
  3. Bodily pain from a blow or an accident
  4. Sleeping in the wrong position
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Signs and Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Signs of having frozen shoulders may not be instantly noticeable. However, a frozen shoulder may present as:
  1. Stiffness of shoulder, accompanied by discomfort and pain.
  2. Shoulder movements are getting limited.
  3. Increased pain during night time. 
These symptoms usually differ in their intensity over three phases - freezing stage, frozen stage, and thawing stage. Nonetheless, all these symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
Once a person has problems in the daily routine, one must pay special attention to get frozen shoulder pain relief.

How does a Frozen Shoulder cause Pain while Sleeping?

You may often tend to sleep on your shoulders. This puts strain on the joint and reduces the blood flow resulting in severe pain, inflammation, additional stiffness and discomfort the next day. It is also likely that the absence of distractions during the night makes you more conscious of your discomfort while sleeping. 

This may make it difficult for you to sleep properly during the night. You may be tossing and turning in bed, looking for ways to sleep with a frozen shoulder and trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Tips to Sleep with Frozen Shoulder

Sleeping with shoulder discomfort might feel like a never-ending cycle. The lingering pain might make it difficult to sleep. Thus, you might be wondering how to sleep with a frozen shoulder. Below are discussed five significant tips to get frozen shoulder pain relief at night:
  1. Medications
    1. Consuming painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications before sleeping can help in sleeping better. It’s not a permanent cure to the problem, as the pain will resurface once the drug effect wears off. 
    2. Oral corticosteroids can also be used since they have a higher anti-inflammatory effect, but they should not be taken frequently owing to their possible side effects. Oral corticosteroids are only suggested in situations with a chronic refractory frozen shoulder that has remained persistent for a long time (e.g., more than two months) or is causing substantial discomfort.
  2. Sleeping Positions
    1. Correct posture is one of the most important things to take care of while sleeping. 
    2. Try to sleep on the back, with arms by the side. This frozen shoulder sleeping position ensures that the spine is stable and that pressure is evenly distributed on the back. Most importantly, this frozen shoulder sleeping position will exert no pressure on the shoulders. 
    3. Another good frozen shoulder sleeping position is sleeping on the unaffected side, using a sleeping pillow as support. A pillow below between the shoulders shall keep them at an even position. 
    4. One may consider investing in a good-quality mattress to support the back while sleeping. 
    5. The following two sleeping positions for a frozen shoulder must be avoided to get frozen shoulder pain relief at night:
      1. Sleeping on the stomach: Sleeping on the stomach is not a stable posture and can worsen the pain and stiffness. Besides, your shoulder muscles can get strained by sleeping like this. 
      2. Sleeping on the affected side:  People may be habituated to sleeping on a particular side. However, sleeping on the affected side will only aggravate the shoulder pain. Too much pressure can be exerted on the already damaged muscles and joints; thus, this sleeping position for a frozen shoulder should be avoided.
  3. Use pillows for support
    1. Using comfortable pillows to support the neck and head is another great idea for frozen shoulder pain relief. Irrespective of the sleeping position, the pillows help maintain a neutral position for the neck and shoulder joints. 
  4. Dietary changes
    1. Looking after the daily diet is important for frozen shoulder pain relief at night. Try to include anti-inflammatory items in your meals, such as turmeric, nuts, fish, etc., as they are natural ingredients that help provide frozen shoulder pain relief. 
    2. Other food items may include oranges, spinach, tomatoes, etc. Drinking ginger tea in the evening may also help manage inflammation. 
    3. Minimise the consumption of alcohol, sodas, and caffeine. Avoid smoking and other tobacco products. 
  5. Sleep hygiene
    1. It is good to follow a night routine daily. This will help you to fall asleep at the same time every night. Avoid heavy food before sleeping and take a warm shower if possible.

Other Tips to Improve Frozen Shoulder Pain

A few other methods have shown promising results in relieving shoulder pain. Most of these are very easy to perform for frozen shoulder pain relief at night. 
  1. Massage
    Massaging the shoulder is particularly effective in the management of frozen shoulder pain. Massaging relieves muscle tension and stiffness, allowing your muscles to relax. Use essential oils such as eucalyptus and kalonji oil for massaging.
  2. Salt bath 
    Salt baths help relax muscles and reduce inflammation in the joints. For that, one needs to immerse the affected shoulder in a tub of warm water mixed with Epsom salts. Keep it in for 10 to 15 minutes to get frozen shoulder pain relief at night. 
  3. Heat packs
    One can also try using heat packs to get relief from shoulder pain. Heat therapy improves blood circulation thus promoting healing and reducing inflammation of the affected part. Use heat packs for around 10-15 minutes in the affected area before sleeping. 
  4. Exercise
    Pick up a suitable exercise routine as suggested by the doctor or physiotherapist. Performing the right exercises will help mobilise the shoulder joint and indirectly help provide frozen shoulder pain relief at night. Exercises like pendulum stretch, armpit stretch and finger walking exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint and also improve its mobility.
  5. Rest
    Resting well is as important as performing exercises. Give adequate rest to the body and avoid putting too much workload and pressure on the affected shoulder.


A frozen shoulder can make it hard to fall asleep at night. One can try several treatment options right from home remedies like massages and heat therapy to taking medications like painkillers. However, frozen shoulders may get worse over time if left untreated. Popping pills to suppress pain is not a long-term solution but a quick fix. It’s best to consult medical specialists regarding this problem as soon as possible to get frozen shoulder pain relief. 

To resolve patients' worries, HexaHealth offers a wide range of medical services. Along with a team of seasoned medical experts, we provide many more benefits to patients. Curious to know more? Schedule a call right away for a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

The first step in getting frozen shoulder pain relief at night is to choose a comfortable sleeping posture. You can try sleeping on the unaffected side or lying on the back. Painkillers may also help provide frozen shoulder pain relief for a few hours, thus enabling you to sleep.
The cause of frozen shoulder pain at night is not entirely understood. It might be because of the inflammation that develops when the joint is in a static posture for an extended period. It could also be due to the inward position of the arm when at rest. The blood flow toward the rotator cuff tendon and bursa is often reduced when the arm is pressed against the body, leading to pain.
Yes, pain associated with a frozen shoulder often gets amplified at night. While the causes aren’t confirmed, changes in blood flow are a suspected reason behind this.
Pain-relieving medications , such as ibuprofen and aspirin, usually provide instant frozen shoulder pain relief at night. 
Rapid movements or excess physical activities can worsen a frozen shoulder. So when doing exercises, light exercises are recommended to avoid stiffness of the shoulder. 
Ibuprofen and aspirin are some of the most effective medications for frozen shoulder pain relief at night. 
Yes, putting excess pressure on the shoulder may worsen a frozen shoulder. Jerking or twisting shoulder movements may also make them worse.
Often people with rotator cuff tears are misdiagnosed with a frozen shoulder. Both issues are different. People suffering from frozen shoulders have difficulty moving or lifting the shoulder without help. However, people suffering from rotator cuff tears can do that without aid. 
Yes, it’s okay to massage a frozen shoulder. In fact, massaging is good for a frozen shoulder as it relieves muscle stiffness and tension, providing frozen shoulder pain relief. Initially, it may be uncomfortable, but eventually, it’ll be fine. 
Vitamin D is great for getting frozen shoulder pain relief. Vitamin D is responsible for calcium reabsorption, thereby aiding in strengthening bones and joints. It also helps in the quick healing of injuries. Food items such as milk, egg yolks, salmon, cereals, etc., are rich in vitamin D. 
Yes, the pain can radiate down the arm. Pain and stiffness are other symptoms to accompany this. 
Cold exposure is a better option for healing a frozen shoulder initially. Applying ice packs helps reduce inflammation and pain fast. Once this phase is over, heat packs increase the blood flow and accelerate the healing process. Both are effective pain relievers used at different points of the healing cycle. 
Getting chiropractic care can be very effective for frozen shoulders. A chiropractor can help them manage their pain, enhance their shoulder's motion range, and speed up their healing. They can also apply the Niel-Asher Technique[4] for treating frozen shoulders. It’s a natural method involving massaging and other non-invasive techniques to reduce pain. 
Sometimes, a cortisone injection may not work for a frozen shoulder. Such instances usually mean that further testing and observation are needed. The actual reason for the pain needs to be found before other action. One may have to consider surgery as a final option.
No, an MRI cannot show a frozen shoulder. But it can detect inflammation or any kind of tissue damage which might be causing the problem.
It is difficult to predict the lasting duration of a steroid injection. Some last for a few days, while some can last weeks or months. However, repeated usage of steroid injections reduces their efficiency and duration. 

Updated on : 9 November 2022

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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