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We all know the feeling of waking up feeling energized and well-rested and then all of a sudden being hit with intense pain in your shoulder. Ouch. There’s nothing worse than waking up with shoulder pain.

Rotator cuff pain occurs when a tendon in your shoulder tears or is inflamed. Rotator cuff pain is usually caused by gradual wear and tear of your shoulder, but it’s very common among athletes. It’s most common in people above the age of 30.

Dealing with rotator cuff pain might leave you feeling like you can’t enjoy the activities that you used to do. Doing something as simple as swinging a tennis racket now leaves you in excruciating pain. This is why it’s important to find the proper treatment plan so you can learn how to relieve rotator cuff pain.

Fortunately, there are several ways to go about treating rotator cuff pain, such as medication and physical therapy. You should work with your doctor to figure out a treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle. Discover practical tips on how to relieve rotator cuff pain at night to ensure a restful and pain-free sleep.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the symptoms and potential causes of rotator cuff pain, how to relieve shoulder pain from torn rotator cuff, and more. Read this post to learn how to relieve rotator cuff pain so you can go back to waking up comfortably every morning.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Pain

Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury infographic

The first step in knowing how to relieve pain from torn rotator cuff is being able to identify the symptoms. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you’re likely suffering from rotator cuff pain:

  • Dull aching in the shoulder
  • Disruption during sleep
  • Compromised mobility, especially when lifting arms above the shoulder, or behind the back
  • Weakness in arm
  • Swelling and tenderness in the front of shoulder
  • Decrease in strength or range of movement
  • Joint stiffness
  • A “clicking” sound in shoulder when lifting arms above head

Chronic shoulder pain is undeniably painful. Symptoms may start with a dull aching in the tip of your shoulder that intensifies when you push, pull, reach overhead, or lift your arm up. The pain will also make it difficult to sleep, as lying on the affected shoulder will increase pain.

When you suffer from rotator cuff pain, doing the most simple things, like getting dressed in the morning, all of a sudden becomes a huge hassle.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Pain

There are various reasons why you may be feeling pain in your rotator cuff. Maybe you went a little too hard at the gym and are now suffering from it. Maybe you fell and hit your shoulder. Or maybe the pain came out of nowhere. In order to properly treat your shoulder pain, you need to identify the root cause of it.

Causes of a rotator cuff injury

These are the two most common causes of shoulder pain:

  • Substantial injury to the shoulder from exercise, sports, or an accident
  • Gradual wear and tear of the tendon tissue due to repeated overhead activity or heavy lifting for a prolonged period of time

While rotator cuff pain can happen to anyone, there are some risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to it. These risk factors include:

  • Age: With age, your chance of developing rotator cuff pain increases. Rotator cuff tears are most common in people above the age of 60.
  • Family history: Genetics can play a role in your likelihood of developing rotator cuff pain
  • Construction jobs:Jobs, like a construction worker or house painter, that require repetitive arm movement and heavy lifting may make you more susceptible to damage in your rotator cuff

Depending on your profession and lifestyle, rotator cuff pain might be hard to avoid. This is why it’s crucial to take care of your shoulder as soon as you start to experience pain. Not giving your rotator cuff muscles time to rest will inevitably lead to a tear in the muscles. So, make sure to give your body time to rest and relax so your muscles don’t get damaged.

Diagnosing Rotator Cuff Pain

In order to know how to relieve rotator cuff pain at night, you first need to get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will have a better idea of how to go about diagnosing your pain so that you can get the correct course of treatment.

Diagnosing a rotator cuff injury infographic

There are several ways shoulder pain can be diagnosed, including:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will move your arm in different positions and press on your arm to test the strength and muscles in your shoulder.
  • X-rays:An X-ray won’t show the actual rotator cuff tear, but it can identify a bone spur or arthritis that may be causing the pain.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the structures in your body to allow dynamic testing. Dynamic testing will assess the structures of your shoulder as you move and create a comparison between your affected shoulder and your healthy shoulder. This helps doctors be able to identify the potential cause of the pain.
  • MRI:An MRI uses radio waves and a magnet to obtain high-quality images of the structures in the shoulder. These images will give a doctor a better idea of the reason for the pain.

How to Treat Rotator Cuff Pain

There are various ways to go about treating rotator cuff pain. Different treatment options will work for different people, so make sure to discuss with your doctor so that you can find the proper treatment for you.

Here is how to relieve rotator cuff pain:

  • Stretching: It’s also possible to treat rotator cuff pain at home if the injury was sudden. Stretching will help with flexibility, and over-the-counter medicine can help alleviate pain. You’ll also want to get plenty of rest and alternate between icing and heating the affected area.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor will likely suggest physical therapy first as a way to treat your rotator cuff pain. With physical therapy, your trainer will guide you through movements and exercises to strengthen your shoulder muscle and improve your range of motion.
  • Injections: If physical therapy doesn’t help to improve your shoulder pain, your doctor may recommend injections. Your doctor will give a steroid injection into your shoulder joint for temporary pain relief. It’s important to note that these injections are not a cure, but rather just a way to alleviate pain. Repeated use of these injections can weaken the tendon over time.
  • Surgery: Surgery should only be considered if all other treatment options have failed. Surgery is typically reserved for younger patients who have had an acute, traumatic shoulder injury. Rotator cuff surgery may involve an arthroscopic tendon repair, an open tendon repair, a tendon transfer, or in severe cases, a shoulder replacement. If your doctor does recommend surgery, it’s important to know how to relieve pain after rotator cuff surgery. You will need to get plenty of rest, wear a sling, and attend physical therapy in order to heal properly.
  • Sleep adjustment:Rotator cuff pain can have a huge impact on your quality of sleep. If you’re finding yourself waking up throughout the night with intense shoulder pain, it might be a good idea to adjust how you sleep. MedCline’s Shoulder Relief System pillow is an effective natural treatment for shoulder pain. This sleep system allows you to sleep better with a uniquely designed pillow that creates a neutral arm position, so you’re not putting pressure on your affected arm.

Woman feeling her shoulder pain

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my rotator cuff pain go away?

There are various ways you can alleviate rotator cuff pain. Physical therapy is recommended to improve the movement and flexibility of your shoulder. For more severe cases, steroid injections and surgery may be needed.

How can I treat rotator cuff pain at home?

If you have a recent injury to your shoulder, there are a few ways you can treat it at home. Start by icing your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours. Once the pain subsides, switch to a heating pad to reduce stiffness. You should also stretch your shoulder to increase its flexibility. You can use over-the-counter medication to help with pain.

Can rotator cuff heal on its own?

Unless the injury is very minor, most rotator cuffs cannot heal on their own. Regardless of how severe the injury is, it’s important to see a doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis. Not treating your rotator cuff injury will only cause it to get worse over time.

How do you relieve rotator cuff pain at night?

If you suffer from rotator cuff pain at night, try icing your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes before bed. You can also adjust your sleeping position to reduce pressure on your shoulder. You can try sleeping in a reclined position or lying flat on your back with your affected arm propped up on a pillow. In order to sleep comfortably with rotator cuff pain, you need to avoid sleeping on your injured shoulder.

Patient doing physical therapy for a rotator cuff injury

Wrapping Up

Dealing with chronic shoulder pain can have a huge impact on your quality of life, which is why it’s crucial to find the proper course of treatment. There are various ways you can treat rotator cuff pain, from physical therapy to surgery, so be sure to consult with your doctor about what the best treatment is for you.

If you’re struggling with getting good sleep at night due to your shoulder pain, check out MedCline’s Shoulder Relief System. MedCline’s Shoulder Relief System is helpful for rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, post-surgical recovery, and general shoulder pain. The pillow provides optimal comfort and support by alleviating the pressure that you’d usually put on your shoulder while you sleep. It’s comfortable, cooling, and the ideal way to get a great night’s rest, even with shoulder pain.