Deltoid (shoulder) muscle pain that occurs at night while sleeping is a very common problem. This is a very disruptive condition that can affect a person’s sleeping pattern and may result in increased daytime sleepiness and difficulty with concentrating on important activities that need to be performed during the day. Sleep disruption can also affect the emotional well-being of the affected person which can cause a lot of mental anguish and increased anxiety. Therefore, deltoid muscle pain when sleeping is something which needs to be assessed and managed as quickly and effectively as possible.
Cause of deltoid muscle pain at night
The most common cause of experiencing pain in the deltoid muscle at night is due to a process called rotator cuff tendinosis, which is inflammation of the tendons attaching the rotator cuff muscles to the bones around the shoulder. Inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons can be caused by injuries or tears to any of the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff group, which in turn causes irritation to the bursa (a small sac that covers the rotator cuff). This irritated bursa then becomes inflamed resulting in the tendon undergoing a similar inflammatory process. This leads to eventual damage and degeneration of the affected tendons which may result in a tear in the tendons themselves.
When this inflammatory process is active, and when one lies on the affected shoulder, increased pressure is applied to the anatomy causing increased pain. If the affected individual lies on the unaffected side, then the pulling on the arm due to gravity can also increase pressure in the shoulder causing pain.
Therefore, the patient will end up in severe pain no matter the position they choose to lie in which means that these injuries and inflammatory processes need to be managed appropriately.
Management of deltoid muscle pain
Deltoid pain relief can be achieved through conservative therapies such as using anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce the inflammatory process in the shoulder. Other recommendations include applying a cold or ice pack to the affected shoulder via an ice-sleeve, initially sleeping in a reclining chair or using a shoulder support pillow to lie with, and physical therapy.
If these measures are not effective, then the affected individual will have to consult with their primary care doctor or orthopedic specialist to attempt therapies such as injecting local anesthetic and steroid medications into the shoulder so that the inflammatory process can be managed directly.
If this form of therapy is still ineffective, then further evaluation of the shoulder is warranted. If there’s a tear in the rotator cuff muscles or increased calcification in the tendons due to the prolonged inflammatory process, then surgical intervention will be discussed with the patient. Shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff muscle or to remove calcified material is done by making small incisions in the shoulder and using arthroscopic equipment. This surgical option offers shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times resulting in reduced complications and excellent outcomes for patients versus performing open procedures.