Shoulder pain, when it comes, can be too much to take. The littlest activities of your day depend on the movement of your shoulder. From brushing your teeth to pouring yourself a glass of milk, all these activities may seem next to impossible when there is pain shooting from your shoulder blades.

We are here to fan out all the causes of shoulder pain, some effective techniques that can help you feel better, and how to pick a pillow that might save you from painful and cranky mornings!

How does a Wrong Pillow give you Shoulder Pain?

Picking a supportive pillow for your shoulder discomfort is essential. Sleeping and staying asleep may be more difficult if you have more shoulder discomfort. As a result, insufficient sleep might exacerbate shoulder discomfort. Because of this, getting better quality sleep is essential.

Best Pillows for Shoulder Pain Relieve

Sleeping on your side for long hours may cause shoulder pain or make it worse. To avoid it you might need to change your sleeping position. Now, people who are habitual of sleeping on their sides find it very difficult and uncomfortable to switch positions and might end up with even more pain.

Here is when a suitable pillow can do a good job. Picking out pillows that target relieving shoulder pain by aligning your head and neck can be bliss!

Look out for the following while buying your perfect pillow:

  1. Height
  2. Loft
  3. Fabric
  4. Size
  5. Shape
  6. Durability

Here are some pillows that check all of the boxes mentioned above:

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam pillows are renowned for his or her potential to conform in your frame’s form. This function makes them an exceptional choice for shoulder pain sufferers. The reminiscence foam provides support to your head and neck, retaining your backbone aligned and decreasing strain to your shoulders.

Additionally, these pillows are long lasting and hypoallergenic, making them a wise funding. Make sure to pick the pillows that have breathable layers of memory foam and have cooling properties that offer as much support as needed to align your head and neck. This might be one of the best pillows for side sleepers with shoulder pain.

Latex Pillows

If you are squirmy and experience a lot of tossing and turning while sleeping, then maybe the loft or height of your pillow is to blame. Latex pillows with various forms of fillings usually come with customizable options. You can adjust the height according to your preferences and comfort.

An adjusted support will cradle your head and neck thereby reducing shoulder pain. Latex is known for its cooling properties so if you are a hot sleeper then this is a bliss for you. A cooler temperature will ensure sound sleep and you can get lost in the dreamland without any interruptions. This is definitely an ultimate pillow for shoulder pain.

Down or Down-Alternative Pillows

Down pillows are super fluffy and mushy so they might not provide as firm a support as the memory foam pillows but still, they are excellent for customized support for your shoulder and back.

In fact, for back and stomach sleepers down pillows can easily be compressed and used under the pelvis for the perfect lumbar support. What else could one ask for a long, healthy, and restful sleep?

Contour Pillows

A contour pillow may actually help you solve your shoulder problems. Some people find thick pillows fairly supportive for maintaining their spine's natural curve but for some it might cause certain discomfort when it pushes the lower back slightly forward and stains the shoulder at the same time.

A contour pillow helps with the same. The contour design makes room for the tissues that collect at the top of your hips and at the bottom of your back when you sit, which make it much easier to sleep on your back and save your shoulder from straining.

Contour Pillows

Pillow for Shoulder Pain During Pregnancy

A woman's contours continually change during her pregnancy. Thus, it's critical to purchase a cushion that meets all of your needs. Women often depend on a body pillow to help them sleep throughout pregnancy. Any sleeping posture can benefit from the use of body pillows.

It supports your tummy and allows you to raise your knees to lessen lumbar spine rotation. Memory foam fill is also included with body pillows. However, other conventional fillers are offered.

Try Eli & Elm's Ultra Comfort Memory Foam Pregnancy Body Pillow offers the utmost in maternal comfort. Our multipurpose, full-body pillow was created with expectant moms' particular requirements in mind.

What causes Shoulder Pain while Sleeping?

Shoulder pain is a common occurrence. Every other person is suffering from it. But it is even worse when you have it while sleeping. It makes falling asleep next to impossible.

Sleeping on your side for long hours contributes largely to your shoulder pain. This is because while sleeping on your side the entire weight of your torso is on your shoulders and prolonged hours will trigger pain after you wake up. In addition, shoulder discomfort may result from:

  • Joint arthritis in the shoulder
  • Spurs in the bone of the shoulder
  • Inflammation of a fluid-filled sac (bursa) that typically shields the joint and facilitates smooth motion is known as bursitis.
  • Shattered shoulder bone
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Separation of the shoulders
  • Frozen shoulder is a condition where the shoulder's tendons, ligaments, and muscles stiffen up, making movement uncomfortable and challenging.
  • Overuse or damage to neighboring tendons, such the arm bicep muscles
  • damage to the nerves causing aberrant shoulder mobility
  • The rotator cuff tendons' tears
  • Inadequate shoulder mechanics and posture

How Does Sleeping on Your Side Cause Shoulder Pain?

There are several reasons why sleeping on your shoulder may cause shoulder pain.


Rotator cuff tendons may become squeezed between the shoulder humerus bone and the scapular bone during side sleeping. This can result in rotator cuff prolonged compression, friction and may progress to other conditions such as bursitis, tendonitis, and rotator cuff tear. Symptoms of impingement include pain and weakness with reaching or overhead activities.

Rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff muscles attach to the bone by way of a rotator cuff tendon. Prolonged or repetitive impingement of the rotator cuff tendons may cause microscopic tears (tendinitis) leading to eventual full thickness rotator cuff tears. Symptoms include pain and weakness at the shoulder.


The bursae are fluid filled sacs in the shoulder that help cushion bones and tendons. Prolonged impingement due to side sleeping may lead to inflammation of the bursal tissues in the shoulder. This may lead to continued pain, stiffness and difficulty with motion of the shoulder.


Prolonged side sleeping may cause cartilage breakdown in the shoulder or inside the acromioclavicular (AC) joint of the shoulder. This may lead to shoulder osteoarthritis or AC joint osteoarthritis. This may result in stiffness, painful clicking or popping, and pain that worsens with movement.

How Can You Avoid Shoulder Pain from Side Sleeping?

Now, we understand people have their sleep preference according to their comfort, but if it is leaving you in agony and discomfort, it might be a good idea to switch things up a bit! Now when we know all about the causes of shoulder pain, let's jump to the hacks that can help you reduce it.

Sleeping On Your Back

If you are a side sleeper and you are experiencing frequent pain in the shoulders you might want to change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back, in such cases, is very effective. It is the best way to offload your shoulders, you can even place a pillow underneath your knees to maintain a comfortable head and neck position.

Similarly sleeping in an inclined position by using a reclining chair, or raising the head plank of your bed, or by using a supportive pillow, can keep you away from shoulder aches.

Sleeping On Your Stomach

Although sleeping on your stomach stresses your neck and back, with the combination of the right mattress and pillow you can make it work. Use a medium firm mattress that doesn’t let your body sink too deep into the bed.

You can also use a pillow to support your head and neck and prevent it from straining. Conclusively you’ll see that you are comfortable and relaxed, away from shoulder pain as well as neck and back pain.

Using Side Sleeping Pillows

You will get plenty of options of side sleeper pillows for shoulder pain, in various sizes and shapes. Such a pillow is specifically made for people who are habitual of sleeping on their sides and often wake up with shoulder pain. It can be used to remove direct pressure off the shoulder when sleeping on your side.

Keeping a Good Posture

Keeping a good posture is very helpful for a sound sleep and a pain free morning. While we sleep we are careless about our position. Some people have a habit of sleeping with their arm under a pillow and with their elbow overhead. As difficult as it sounds it can be equally painful for your shoulders. These positions can result in prolonged periods of pressure on the shoulder.

Keeping a Good Posture

How Common is Shoulder Pain?

A large percentage of people will have shoulder discomfort at some time in their life, making it a somewhat common problem. Numerous factors, including accidents, misuse, bad posture, underlying medical disorders, or age-related degeneration, can cause it.

Studies show that 16% of musculoskeletal issues reported in primary care settings are related to shoulder discomfort. Furthermore, the yearly incidence of shoulder discomfort in adults is believed to be between 18 and 26%. However, a number of variables, including age, career, lifestyle, and the existence of underlying medical disorders, might affect the prevalence.

How Can You Take Care of Yourself?

The following advice can help reduce your shoulder paint home:

  • Apply ice to the shoulder region for fifteen minutes, then remove it for fifteen more. For two to three days, do this three to four times a day. Cover the ice with a towel. Frostbite can occur if ice is applied directly to the skin.
  • Give your shoulder some rest over the upcoming days.
  • Return to your normal activities gradually. A PT can assist you in doing this in a safe manner.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help lessen pain and inflammation.

Issues with the rotator cuff can also be managed at home.

  • After working out, use ice and ibuprofen if you've ever experienced shoulder soreness.
  • Discover how to strengthen and stretch your shoulder muscles and rotator cuff tendons with these exercises. Such exercises might be suggested by a medical professional or physical therapist.
  • To prevent frozen shoulders when healing from tendonitis, keep up your range-of-motion exercises.
  • Maintain proper posture to ensure that your shoulder tendons and muscles are in their proper places.

How Can Shoulder Pain be Diagnosed?

To rule out any structural issues and check for anything that can affect your spine or neck, your doctor will first do a physical examination.

They will then measure your shoulder's strength and flexibility by testing its range of motion. This will require you to rotate your arms 90 or 180 degrees and move them in different directions, such as behind you, across your body, or over your head.

Other ways suggested by doctors to diagnose shoulder discomforts are:

  • A strong magnet and radio waves are used in an MRI scan to provide precise pictures of your shoulder.
  • Your muscles' electrical activity is measured during an electromyography to check for any nerve issues.
  • Your doctor can identify arthritis, bone spurs, and other bone-related issues causing your shoulder pain with the assistance of X-rays. An arthrogram, which involves injecting dye to enhance the clarity of the images, can also be suggested by your doctor.
  • X-rays obtained from various angles are scanned using a CT scanner. When combined, they can provide a more comprehensive picture of your shoulder condition for your doctor.
  • An arthroscopy is a surgical technique that provides your doctor with high-definition views of your shoulder using a small fiber-optic camera.

When to Consult with a Medical Professional

Periodically, acute pain in the left shoulder may indicate a heart attack. If you experience a sudden pressure or crushing pain in your shoulder, especially if it radiates from your chest to your left jaw, arm, or neck, or if it is accompanied by perspiration, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call the local emergency number.

If you just had a serious accident and your shoulder is extremely painful, swollen, bruised, or bleeding, visit the emergency department of the hospital.

Give your care taker a call if you have:

  • shoulder ache accompanied with redness, edema, or fever
  • severe discomfort even when the shoulder is moved with the arm or by another person
  • Pain persisting for more than two to four weeks while receiving home therapy Shoulder swelling
  • The skin around the shoulder blades is either red or blue.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, suffering shoulder pain from sleeping is merely a warning sign. This pain tells you not to take your health lightly and change your sleeping posture as soon as possible.

Sure, a single instance of shoulder ache after sleeping uncomfortably isn’t that alarming. Still, if this keeps happening, it’s usually for the best to take action. The solution is simple, inexpensive, and can save you from a world of trouble in the future.


Sports-health: Understanding Different Types of Shoulder Pain

Mayo Clinic: Symptoms of shoulder pain: When to See a doctor

Harvard Health: Healing Shoulder Pain: A troubleshooting guide for common shoulder problems