How To Sleep With A Frozen Shoulder
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How To Sleep With A Frozen Shoulder

Victoria Pitcher
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A frozen shoulder is a painful condition affecting the mobility of the shoulder. It can develop spontaneously or follow trauma to the shoulder. The shoulder will gradually become less mobile, less able to reach overhead, out the side and rotate in either direction.

Sleep can be very problematic as the shoulder is painful in many positions and at rest. Therefore finding the right sleeping position and the right pillow support is essential. Here are a few options that might help, but it is individual so try different options until you find something that works for you. Usually, you need support to hold your arm in a comfortable position which is likely to be slightly away from your side and in a neutral position of rotation.

How To Sleep On Your Side With A Frozen Shoulder

If you prefer sleeping on your side, you should try lying on your unaffected shoulder and using a pillow in front of you to rest your arm on. This keeps it lifted out and comfortably supported out of the painful position of internal rotation and horizontal adduction. You might find it more comfortable to have the pillow slightly over your side, in a diagonal direction, so that your elbow is closer to your hip than forwards and in front of you.

Photo of woman lying on side with arm supported by pillow

How To Sleep On Your Back With A Frozen Shoulder

If you sleep best on your back, you should try using a pillow next to you to lie your arm on. This will keep your arm lifted and supported away from your body, with your shoulder in slight flexion and abduction. Alternatively, resting your arm on a pillow that goes across from your side and over your tummy may work better for you.

How To Sleep On Your Front With A Frozen Shoulder

If you like to lie on your front to sleep, this can often be the hardest position to find comfortable. The two best options are to lie with your arm by your side, with your hand at your hip, supported with a pillow under your shoulder. Or lying on your front with a pillow under you to tilt you over to one side slightly, with another pillow under your bent elbow supporting your arm out to the side.

Photo of woman lying on front with pillow supporting arm

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