What Is The Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery? 4 Options

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Good sleep is quite essential after painful shoulder surgery. This article discusses the best position to sleep after shoulder surgery below in this article.

A sound sleep is vital after any form of surgery. Sleep helps the body relax and quickens the healing processes, which will help you recover from your operation.

However, some surgeries might be in body parts that make it difficult for you to sleep. Shoulder surgery is one such operation where sleeping in bed at night can be quite difficult. 

There are numerous reasons for it. It’s normal for a person to sleep on the side or bend his two hands while sleeping. 

Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

But after shoulder surgery, these positions exert excess pressure on the shoulder, and you will have discomfort while sleeping after surgery. The pain becomes severe if you sleep on an old mattress or a mattress that does not provide good support to your shoulder.

I have listed below a few best positions to sleep after shoulder surgery that may help you while sleeping in bed at night. So, continue reading this article for more information.

Understanding Your Shoulder

You can move your arms sideways, behind, upwards, and downwards only because of a healthy shoulder joint. A shoulder joint is a very complex joint and capable of more movement than other joints in your body.

The joint consists of three bones: the clavicle, humerus, and scapula. Besides these three bones, other components are also responsible for movement. 

These are ball and socket, shoulder capsule (group of tissues surrounds the joint and forms a capsule), and rotator cuff (group of muscles and tendons forms a cuff on the shoulder joint and are mainly responsible for the movement of arms).

Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

Why Do You Need Shoulder Surgery?

An overused shoulder joint can have torn muscles or tendons and may require shoulder surgery. During surgery, the damaged tissues are removed from the shoulder joint, and the surgeon fixes any tear in the tendon, cartilage, or ligaments of the shoulder joint. 

Rotator cuff surgery is the most common and painful surgery in people. The patient may require almost four to six weeks or a few months to recover from the surgery.

Four Common Types Of Shoulder Problem

#1. Fractured Collar Bone

When a person falls from the side accidentally, he may have a fractured collar bone. When the ailment becomes severe, it requires surgery.

#2. Fractured Head Of Humerus

When a person falls flat on his chest, and his arms are stretched, then the head of the humerus may fracture. If the condition is serious, then the doctor may ask you for surgery. This condition is mainly seen in older adults because their bones are fragile as they lack calcium.

Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

#3. Instability

Instability of the shoulder usually occurs when the humerus detaches from the shoulder socket.

#4. Rotator Cuff Tears

Excessive movement of shoulders or sudden fall may cause muscle injury on shoulders. The tendons rub against the blades of the shoulder, which can cause rotator cuff tears. The condition is very painful, and it can be treated only by surgery.

Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder surgery is a major surgery that requires 4-6 weeks for healing. So, doctors advise you to have complete rest. 

But the patient who has recently undergone shoulder surgery may find it difficult to sleep because the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage are still sensitive to movement and pressure after the surgery.

So when the recovering muscles are engaged even slightly, you may feel pain in your shoulder and arms. It’s essential to keep your arms and injured shoulder always in a comfortable position. 

But this is not always possible. During sleeping, there are chances of moving the arms here and there, which can increase the pain in the shoulder joint.

I have listed a few ways in which you may choose to sleep after shoulder surgery to heal the pain quickly. You should make sure to have a sound sleep which is quite essential for your body and mind. 

#1. Sleeping In A Reclined Position

If you recently had shoulder surgery, lying flat on the bed puts a lot of strain on the shoulder joint. But as the pain lessens with time, you can lower yourself on the bed to have a comfortable sleep. Also, apply some ice packs for your shoulder surgery recovery.

Sleeping in a reclined position is one of the best ways to sleep after shoulder surgery, because the reclined position helps in strengthening the lower and middle back. 

The video below gives some great tips from the users personal experience on how to sleep after shoulder surgery, in the reclined position

It also reduces pain in the shoulder joints and the surrounding tissues and ligaments. By reclined position we mean keeping the back, head, and neck in a slightly upright position while keeping the legs horizontally on the bed.

You may feel some discomfort sleeping in this position initially, but after sleeping for one week, you will realize that the reclined position is the best way to heal your shoulder surgery.

You can sleep on a reclinining sofa or use a stack of pillows to sleep keep your back raised. Some companies have come out with specially designed pillows which help you recline. 

You can buy many such wedge pillows from online stores. Raising your body to 45 degrees will surely help you have a good and tight sleep at night.

Best Wedge Pillow For Shoulder Surgery

#2. Sleeping On Your Non-injured Side

You can try to sleep on the uninjured side to have a comfortable sleep at night. Try to put more soft pillows behind you so that you don’t turn the other side at night.

#3. Wearing A Sling While Sleeping

When you have shoulder surgery, the surgeon advises you to wear a sling during the daytime. It may be awkward for you to use it at night, but believe me, you can have a comfortable sleep after wearing a sling in the night. 

Your shoulder will remain stable at night. It prevents you from placing stress on your hand and shoulder unknowingly while sleeping. So, in short, it speeds up the healing process.

But while wearing a sling, I will advise you not to put your weight on the shoulder, which has surgery because compression may cause inflammation while waking, which is very painful.

The video below explains how to sleep with a sling

#4. Supporting Your Arms During Sleeping

During sleep, your arms can move in an unstable way which increases the strain on your shoulder, and you are more likely to suffer from pain while getting up.

So you can keep a pillow under your arm to make sure that the arms and shoulders are well supported. The video below explains how to do this:

Additional Tips To Have Comfortable Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

#1. Go For A Walk

If you had shoulder surgery and the doctor has advised you to have complete bed rest, you can go for a walk in the morning or evening. Your body will have good blood circulation.

#2. Follow The Advice Of Doctor

You need to take medicines regularly as prescribed by the doctor. You should not take alcoholic drinks with the medicine because it will increase the toxicity within your body and delay the healing process. So always take the medicines with water or fresh fruit juice.

Most people who undergo shoulder surgery need to take a lot of heavy-dose medicine. But they should take medicines and little food at least 30 minutes before going to bed to avoid stomach irritation.

Best Position To Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

#3. Apply Ice On Shoulder

You can apply an ice pack on your injured shoulder 30 minutes before going to bed. It will reduce inflammation and lessen the pain for a temporary period. As a result, the patient will feel better and can have a comfortable sleep. 

But don’t apply ice directly. You can wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it to the injured shoulder. The benefits of ice pack therapy will last only for 45 -60 minutes.

But if you don’t have an ice pack at home, you take a bag packed with frozen peas or veggies and apply directly on the injured shoulder joint.

#4. Avoid Using Elbow As Support

You need to avoid your elbow as support while shifting the bed. It strains on your upper arm and will increase the pain in your shoulder joint.

What Should I Do If I Still Experience Shoulder Pain Even After a Few Weeks?

  • You need to first talk to the doctor about your pain in the shoulder joint to determine whether you have nerve damage in the shoulder or there is an infection in the injury.
  • You can try physiotherapy sessions.
  • You can do various shoulder exercises at home to relieve pain.

Wrap Up

Shoulder surgery is major surgery, and the patient may likely have pain, swelling, or may reduce mobility while recovering. The shoulder operation can be mainly three types, i.e., rotator cuff surgery, labrum repair, or arthroscopic procedure. It may take several weeks to months for a patient to recover after surgery.

However, the speed of pain relief from shoulder surgery depends on the type of surgery you had, the complications involved, consistency in doing shoulder exercises, medications, and others.

Best Wedge Pillow For Shoulder Surgery

You may have pain while sleeping on the inflatable bed after shoulder surgery which can disturb your sleep. So you can adapt any of the above methods while sleeping in a bed at night. I am sure the methods will reduce your pain, inflammation and you can recover within fewer days.

I hope this article is informative and please don’t forget to share any suggestions for this article. I would love to read your suggestions in the comment section.