How Does Shoulder Bursitis Affect Your Sleep?

How Does Shoulder Bursitis Affect Your Sleep?

Jul 03, 2023
Losing sleep over shoulder pain is bad enough, but all too often, shoulder bursitis turns into a long-lasting challenge. Don’t wait to get medical care that eases your pain, heals the shoulder, and lets you get the sleep you need to stay healthy.

The pain of shoulder bursitis is renowned for disrupting your sleep. Unfortunately, finding a comfortable sleeping position when you have shoulder pain can be a challenge.

If you’re short on sleep due to shoulder bursitis, the experienced pain experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers can help. They offer advanced therapies that effectively ease your pain and promote shoulder healing so you can finally get the restful sleep you need — and regain full arm movement.

Shoulder bursitis explained

Every time you use your shoulder joint, soft tissues like tendons move over bones. The tissues can easily glide and produce smooth movement thanks to tiny, fluid-filled cushions called bursa. 

Numerous bursae are tucked between the bones and tendons, ligaments, and muscles, where they reduce friction between the hard and soft tissues.

For such a crucial job, bursa are surprisingly simple structures. They’re made of a membrane with an inner lining that produces just enough lubricating fluid to create a slippery cushion. You develop bursitis when the lining becomes irritated and inflamed.

Though you have numerous bursae in the shoulder joint and any of them could become inflamed, bursitis commonly occurs in the bursa cushioning the top of the arm bone and the shoulder blade.

Why shoulder bursitis develops

Shoulder bursitis can affect anyone because it develops as you repeatedly make the same arm movements. The repetitive movement places ongoing pressure on the bursa, gradually leading to irritation and inflammation.

The pressure on the bursa is magnified if you engage in activities requiring heavy lifting or overhead movement. That’s why people who play sports like football, baseball, and lacrosse have a higher risk of developing bursitis.

Without time to heal, the problem gradually worsens. As a result, chronic inflammation develops, the lining thickens, and the bursa may produce too much fluid.

Though repetitive movement is the most common cause, you could also end up with bursitis after an acute (sudden) shoulder injury. You’re also more likely to have bursitis if you have arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid disease.

Shoulder pain while sleeping

Bursitis causes shoulder pain and stiffness when you move your arm. Lifting your arm over your head or trying to reach behind your back or across your chest may cause sharp, severe pain.

Your shoulder pain is worse while sleeping for several reasons. For starters, lying on the injured shoulder places more pressure on the bursa.

Even if the bursa is only mildly inflamed, the weight of your upper body pressing on the shoulder causes enough pain to disrupt your sleep. In fact, the pressure from frequently sleeping on the same side could cause the inflammation that leads to bursitis.

You’ll also struggle with shoulder pain even if you switch to the opposite side or sleep on your back or stomach. In these sleeping positions, your arm will roll or rest in a way that stresses the shoulder joint.

Finding relief from shoulder bursitis

The first step toward improving your sleep is to switch to the other side or sleep on your back. No matter which position you prefer, arrange pillows around your body to elevate and support the arm and prevent pressure on the injured shoulder while you sleep.

The next step is helping the bursa heal. You need to limit or stop activities that irritate the shoulder. In severe cases, we may need to immobilize your arm. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should also help.

If your pain doesn’t improve, or it’s severe, our team offers numerous treatments that can ease your symptoms. For example, we may recommend a bursal injection containing steroids that reduce inflammation or regenerative medicine therapies that promote healing, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) injections.

Shoulder bursitis often improves, but it can turn into a chronic condition. If you have ongoing or recurrent bursitis, you may need physical therapy or a shoulder brace.

For long-lasting pain, we can use advanced interventional procedures that relieve pain by targeting the nerves carrying the pain signals.

If you’re losing sleep because of bursitis pain, don’t wait to seek help at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our board-certified providers offer exceptional pain relief at more than 20 convenient locations in Georgia. Call the nearest office or request an appointment online today.