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How to Sleep with a Frozen Shoulder

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Update: June 16, 2023
6 min read

Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
How To Sleep With A Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, it causes stiffness and extreme pain in the shoulder joint. The symptoms of this condition start slowly and can last anywhere between one to three years. A frozen shoulder can make it difficult to fall asleep or perform any other activity. Read how to sleep with a frozen shoulder easily, so that poor slumber doesn’t affect your day-to-day life.

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

A frozen shoulder affects the shoulder joint, where you feel stiffness and pain. Now, the makeup of your shoulder has three bones, which together form the ball-and-socket joint. A tissue holds them together in place, known as the shoulder capsule. In a frozen shoulder, this capsule becomes thick. As a result, it limits your motion and causes much pain.

Why Frozen Shoulder May Affect Your Sleep

People suffering from a frozen shoulder often complain of pain and stiffness, which deteriorates at night. Usually, with a frozen shoulder, you may experience pain even in the daytime. But the stiffness settles once you try to rest.

Why Does Frozen Shoulder Hurt More at Night?

Sleeping with a frozen shoulder can keep you up because of the position you are in once you lie down. It slows down the blood flow, and also the other nutrients are filtered at a slow pace. This increases pressure and inflammation on the shoulder and can hamper your slumber. 

Tips To fall asleep When the Shoulder Hurts with Frozen Shoulder

Wondering how to sleep comfortably with a frozen shoulder? Don’t worry. There are a few tips you can follow.

  • Rest your shoulder throughout the day, so the pain doesn’t aggravate at night.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice and ensure you don’t miss out on any medication prescribed.
  • If you have been prescribed a painkiller, take one if it interferes with sleep. But don’t make it a habit. 
  • Perform stretching exercises to ease tension before you sleep. However, speak to your doctor before you proceed. 
  • Try shoulder massage to ease the pain.

You can also try the below-frozen shoulder sleeping positions given below. 

Best Sleep Positions for Frozen Shoulder

When you try to sleep in a position suitable for frozen shoulders, it can offer you much-needed relief. Take a look at the best sleeping positions for frozen shoulders.

Use Head and Neck Support

Use Head And Neck Support

We all enjoy different sleep positions. So, whether you find it comfortable to sleep on your stomach, side or back, having the right frozen shoulder pillow can benefit you. When you properly support your neck and head, it can reduce the tension and pain in the shoulder. Keeping your neck and spine completely aligned is important to ensure you release any pressure put on the musculoskeletal system. Sleeping properly can also ensure your weight is distributed correctly, relieving any stress from the shoulder.

Sleep with a Body Pillow

Sleep With A Body Pillow

Ever heard about the body pillow? It is a big U-shaped pillow that can give you warmth and comfort. This can be the best way to sleep with a frozen shoulder. Now, using a body pillow can offer you the necessary support. And if you are a side sleeper, you can use a body pillow to sleep, so there is no pressure on the frozen shoulder. If you are a back sleeper, you can use the pillow to keep you in place and prevent you from rolling off. Try a body pillow, as it can be the correct pillow for frozen shoulders. 

Side Sleeping with Pillow Support

Side Sleeping With Pillow Support

To avoid frozen shoulder night pain, sleep on your unaffected side with a pillow for proper support. However, if you don’t have a body pillow, you can use your regular one to avoid shoulder pain when sleeping. Try to sleep with a pillow between your arms, as this will keep your shoulder in line and prevent inward curvature of the shoulder. You can also use a pillow between your knees to maintain proper body alignment.

Back Sleeping with Arms by Your Side

Back Sleeping With Arms By Your Side

Sleeping on the back can be excellent for shoulder pain. Here, lie on your back. It can be beneficial as it distributes your body weight and pressure. Once you lie down, place your hands on your side with palms facing down. 

This sleeping position ensures you don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders. It also enables the muscles and tissues to stretch gently. This way, tension doesn’t get accumulated. 

Use a Heating Pad

Use A Heating Pad

Finally, you can always use a heating pad for some relief. However, if you are going to sleep with a heating pad, make sure you set the timer to switch off before you dose off. You can also microwave wheat stuffed inside a sock if you don’t want to use a heating pad. When you apply heat to the frozen shoulder, it can reduce pain. 

Sleep Positions to Avoid With Frozen Shoulder

Now that you know how to sleep with a frozen shoulder, look at the positions you must avoid. 

Sleeping on Your Affected Shoulder

Maybe you already guessed this one, but sleeping on the affected shoulder is a big no-no as it can put too much pressure and deteriorate the condition. However, it is easier said than done, especially if you feel comfortable sleeping on that side. And if you tend to roll over at night, try using a body pillow, as mentioned earlier. 

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Being a stomach sleeper is unsuitable as it can worsen the pain and stiffness. It is also because sleeping on the stomach draws your shoulder upward and prevents you from maintaining an ideal position.

Treatment Options for Frozen Shoulder

Treatment options for frozen shoulder typically involve a combination of non-surgical approaches and, in severe cases, surgical intervention. Non-surgical treatments include physical therapy to improve range of motion, stretching exercises to relieve stiffness, and pain management through medications or corticosteroid injections.

Heat or cold therapy may also be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort. In some cases, surgical procedures such as manipulation under anesthesia or arthroscopic release may be recommended to break up scar tissue and improve mobility. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and should be determined by a healthcare professional.

When to See A Doctor?

You must see a doctor immediately if your shoulder pain gets worse. Opting for the right treatment is essential if your condition is interfering with sleep and disrupting your day-to-day life. With medications and physical therapy, you may get some necessary relief. 


Frozen shoulder is not dangerous but can cause severe pain and stiffness. However, with proper treatment, you will get some relief. Also, try the above-mentioned tips to ensure you enjoy a sound slumber.


What is the best way to sleep if you have a frozen shoulder?

We bring you all the best positions to help you sleep well with a frozen shoulder in the above article, take a look.

Why does a frozen shoulder hurt worse at night?

When you lie down, the blood circulation slows down, making the pain worse at night.

What should you not do with a frozen shoulder?

If you have a frozen shoulder, you must avoid putting too much pressure on the shoulder. 

How do I know if my frozen shoulder is thawing?

You will notice decreased stiffness, regain movement, and an improved range of motion.

Is it OK to massage a frozen shoulder?

Yes, massaging can be beneficial for frozen shoulders.



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Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
With a Master's Degree in Mass Communication and nearly two decades of professional expertise in crafting healthcare articles, he possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field.

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