clinician scraping client

Shoulder pain at night? Here’s our top 7 ways to treat it.

Shoulder pain worsening at night is often a sign of inflammation in the shoulder joint. Unfortunately, laying in bed can cause further compression on an area that is impinged or torn leading to more pain every time you try to rest. If you experience a worsening of pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, numbness or tingling down the side that is impacted, it is possible that your pain is being caused by bursitis, tendonitis or a rotator cuff injury. Try these techniques to calm your shoulder.

1. Incorporate light stretching into your bedtime routine.

Doing yoga or light stretches, particularly for your head, neck, shoulders, and back before you go to sleep can help to alleviate muscle tension in your body. This is particularly important if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, as long periods of time where you are still can cause more stiffness and pain. Stretching can loosen tight areas and restore circulation and blood flow. Even if it seems counter intuitive to move before bed it can feel great and make it easier to fall asleep.

2. Use a Sidekick scraping tool on your shoulder.

Sidekick tools are inspired by ancient wisdom for pain relief. Gua Sha is a 2000-year-old Eastern medicine technique that is used to mobilize and stimulate soft tissues. A Sidekick muscle scraper is a flat, slightly curved hand held tool that you gently and repeatedly “scrape” over your muscles. When you apply the tool to the skin over and around your shoulder, it releases adhesions underneath that cause pain and stiffness. Clinical studies have found that scraping tools successfully decreases pain, reduces inflammation, and increases blood flow to affected areas.


Sometimes the best way to decrease inflammation is the old fashioned way. You can try applying an ice pack to the affected area rotating 10-15 minutes on and 10 minutes off for a half an hour or so leading up to bedtime.


If sleeping on your side is aggravating your shoulder pain, try sleeping on your back. It may be easier said than done, but find a way to get comfortable and see if taking the pressure off of your shoulder helps with your pain. If you’re able to get used to sleeping on your back, you may also notice an overall boost to your back health and skeletal structure.


While it can be hard to sleep when you have shoulder pain, sleeplessness can make pain symptoms worse. Creating a bedtime routine by going to sleep at the same time every night (even on weekends!) is good for regulating your circadian rhythm and will also help with restlessness at night.

Other actions you can take to prepare your body for sleep are:

  • Avoiding caffeinated beverages after 10 a.m.
  • Dimming your lights 1-2 hours before bedtime, which simulates natural light works and lessens brain stimulation.
  • Staying off your phone screen and turning off the TV at least one hour before you try to go to sleep, for the same reasons as above – to calm your eyes and mind and lessen stimulation.
  • Using black out curtains to allow for maximum melatonin production and so your know is not kept awake by artificial light
  • Breathing exercises or meditation
  • Journaling to put all of your thoughts on hold and to prevent anxiety or rumination that may disturb sleep


A medical professional can help you diagnose the origins of your shoulder pain. Sometimes making simple ergonomic adjustments to your desk setup or repeated motions you’re engaged in, whether for work or play, can eliminate shoulder pain. To make things easier on your doctor or allied health professional use a notepad or an app to track the movements, activities or ‘triggers’ that may be causing your pain to help them have more information and narrow down what the primary cause may be.


Over the counter anti-inflammatories are generally safe for most people, and in some cases,  they can help your body to heal faster simply by reducing inflammation. But if you experience anything more than mild shoulder pain or pain that lasts for more than two nights, or if you are unsure of the cause of your shoulder pain, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional.

An anti-inflammatory diet will also help and can be done without consulting a medical professional. Try adding more rich leafy greens, fatty fish, turmeric and reducing refined sugar, alcohol, gluten and dairy.

Final thoughts

What’s most important if you’re experiencing shoulder pain at night is to be proactive about addressing it. Research shows that people who are proactive about taking care of health concerns tend to do better than those who procrastinate or avoid dealing with the issue. You should never be “too busy” to take care of your health because without it, you won’t get much done anyway! If you’re dedicated to addressing the cause of your shoulder pain and proactive about applying solutions to remedy it, you’ll start sleeping better and enjoying your waking hours even more.

If you’re ready to look at our scraping tools as a way to proactively treat your shoulder pain, check out our best selling scrapers below: