Painful shoulder and side of sleeping.
Publication Information: Kempf B & Kongsted A. Association between the side of unilateral shoulder pain and preferred sleeping position: A cross sectional study of 83 Danish patients. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2012; 35: 407-412.
Summary: This cross-sectional study addressed a question that we
encounter frequently in practice – Can sleeping position affect
my shoulder pain? Although it is within reason that sleeping on
one side may predispose one to shoulder pain on that side, no
evidence exists to support, nor refute, this theory. The authors
evaluated adult patients seeking chiropractic care with unilateral
shoulder pain who were asked about sleeping position and, if
sleeping with a partner, which side of the bed they slept in. A
total of 83 participants were included from 10 chiropractic
Results: The side of shoulder pain was associated to the side patients slept on, with 67% of those sleeping on one side lying on thepainful shoulder. Further, patients were more likely to turn away from their partner at night, and 76% slept on the side opposite their partner.
Comments: This study shed some light onto a relationship that, until
this point, has been described with pure speculation or anecdote.
Even though the sample size wasn’t huge (83 subjects), the
results certainly reveal that clinicians should inquire about the
preferred side for sleeping in patients with generalized shoulder
pain. Although altering sleeping position may be difficult,
clinicians could recommend switching sides of the bed (even
temporarily to relieve pain) in those who sleep with a spouse/partner