How to Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

If you’ve recently had shoulder surgery, you are likely aware of the fact that you experience more pain in bed at night. There are several reasons for this: When we sleep, it’s common to bend one or both arms under the pillow, or sleep on our side, or naturally shift to the fetal position. All of these positions place undue pressure on your shoulder.

To add insult to injury, if you’re sleeping on an old mattress or a mattress that doesn’t provide you with the support your body needs, you could exacerbate the aches and pains. The good news is that there are actions you can take to get a better night’s sleep.

6 Tips for Sleeping Comfortably After Shoulder Surgery

These are general recommendations. Always follow your doctor’s personal treatment plan if it is different than the one below.

1. Wear a sling while sleeping

This will help to keep the arm stable while healing. It’ll also help to prevent unconsciously placing your arm in an uncomfortable position while you’re sleeping.

2. Sleep in a reclined position

Propping yourself on pillows will keep you from turning over and sleeping on the recovering shoulder. If you shift a lot while sleeping and believe that you’ll knock the pillows over, opt for a reclining chair.

3. Prop up the arm with a pillow

Place a pillow between the arm of the healing shoulder and your torso. This will ensure adequate blood flow and prevent numbness and cramping.

4. Follow your doctor’s advice

This includes taking medication as instructed, immobilizing the arm during the day, and resting.

5. Take a walk

Unless you underwent major surgery that requires bed rest, taking a walk will promote blood circulation. Just make sure to walk at a leisurely pace.

6. Ice the shoulder

Before going to bed, apply ice or a cold pack to the injured shoulder to reduce inflammation. Wrap the pack in a towel and keep it on your shoulder for up to 30 minutes. When it’s time for bed, be mindful of your sleeping positions, as described above.

What to Do If You’re Still Experiencing Shoulder Pain After Several Weeks

Depending on the severity of the injury and the extent of surgery, you may have to sleep on an incline for four to six weeks. If after this timeframe you’re still experiencing pain, talk to your doctor to discuss physical therapy, pain management alternatives, or to determine whether there is a complication, such as infection or nerve damage.

You may benefit from post-operative shoulder exercises. However, be sure to consult with your doctor before doing so.

If physical therapy is recommended, rest assured we have four convenient therapy locations.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If shoulder pain is affecting your activities of daily living, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.