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Best Ways to Sleep After a Shoulder Injury

author image Bryan Fass
Bryan Fass began writing in 2003. His column appears on, and he has numerous books on fitness, wellness, injury prevention and human performance, including "The Fit Responder" and "On the Road to Feeling Great." He is a certified/licensed athletic trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, paramedic, speaker and consultant. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in sports medicine from Catawba College.
Best Ways to Sleep After a Shoulder Injury
Sleeping after shoulder surgery

Ask anyone who has had shoulder surgery and he will most likely tell you that the pain he experienced caused difficulty sleeping. Some shoulder surgeries, like a repair to the rotator cuff, can be much more painful than a more simple procedure like a bone spur removal. The bottom line is that it's difficult to get comfortable and sleep after surgery.

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Pain Control

pain medication
pain medication

One of the simplest things to do to help you sleep is to manage your pain. Ice used for 20 minutes prior to sleep will help to alleviate pain and discomfort. Your physician will usually prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medication after surgery, which also assist in helping you sleep better.

Sleep Sitting Up

Patients who have had shoulder surgery often find it most comfortable to sleep sitting up in a semi-reclined position. A recliner or a comfortable chair with an arm rest can help position the arm and shoulder to alleviate pain and allow you to sleep better. Using pillows, blankets and other props to position the arm and shoulder in a pain-free position while seated will help to encourage a comfortable position for sleep.

Sleeping in Bed

Seeping in bed on your side or back after shoulder surgery can be very painful. Side sleepers should lay on their unaffected arm and use pillows to prop the surgery side in a comfortable position. Back sleepers often find it easier to sleep in bed after shoulder surgery, but may still need pillows or towels to prop the arm in a comfortable position.

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