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From The Therapist's Desk

September 17, 2018

The benefits of a full nights rest have been well documented, and if you are like me, you love to get eight hours of sleep every night. The average person will sleep 229,961 hours or roughly 1/3 of their life. Unfortunately, poor sleeping positions can contribute to soft tissue injuries and pain.

Several weeks ago, I began to experience arm pain at the top of my right shoulder. As I began to run through a checklist of diagnoses in my head, I quickly came to the conclusion that my shoulder pain was being caused by my sleeping position. Since I was a child, I have slept on my stomach with my right arm tucked under my pillow, and I rarely change positions.

What is wrong with this sleeping position? The answer is simple...shoulder impingement. Shoulder impingement is a condition in which the space between the rotator cuff tendon and the acromion narrows causing irritation and inflammation. This condition can be treated easily with activity modification, modalities, and therapeutic exercise, but chronic shoulder impingement can lead to more serious injuries like a rotator cuff tear.

Activity modification is key in the treatment of shoulder impingement. Rounded shoulders and forward head positioning should be avoided. If you are a side sleeper or like to sleep with your arm above your head, sleeping on your back with your arm elevated with a pillow should be attempted. Consistently icing for 10 minutes, multiple times a day can help to decrease inflammation in the shoulder joint. Finally, a structured therapeutic exercise routine coupled with manual therapy provided by a skilled physical therapist is key to help relieve pain symptoms.


-Hodson Brown, DPT


Do you know of someone who suffered from a tennis injury and is struggling to get back to normal?  Do you know someone who is recovering from a recent surgery?  Send them this blog and tell them to click here to schedule their physical therapy and get them back to the moments in life that mean the most!

-The Doctors of Physical Therapy at Brewer PT


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