Deep sleep causes bilateral shoulder pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Where is it coming from?

There are a number of possibilities. Older people who have arthritis in the acromioclavicular joint (the joint that joins the collarbone to the shoulder blade) often have pain in the shoulder at night. Sometimes the pain is so severe they cannot sleep on the affected side.

Shoulder pain can originate in the scalene muscles that attach from the neck vertebrae to the first and second ribs. Between these three muscles, on each side of the neck, are nerves, arteries and other vessels that lead to the arms. If these muscles are in a spasm they can cause pain from the base of the neck to the shoulder blade and chest.

A tendon called the supraspinatus- a part of the rotator cuff- can undergo degeneration and send pain to the side of the shoulder and down the arm.

The trapezius muscle runs from the base of the skull, and attaches to the shoulder blade and to the upper spine. Spasms in this muscle can cause headaches, shoulder, back and arm pain.

Problems in the neck may cause referred pain to the shoulders. With sleep, the neck is unsupported. Stress can occur, particularly if someone is in deep sleep, and this can lead to severe shoulder and neck pain.

Sometimes daytime activities can lead to pain at night. Examples would be cradling a telephone between the ear and the shoulder. Or carrying a heavy purse or back pack.

Sleeping on one's stomach can also stress the neck and cause shoulder pain.

Teeth clenching or grinding, known as bruxism, can cause neck and shoulder pain, too.

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