How long should you sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?

How long should you sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?

The main objective of shoulder surgery is to relieve any pain you may have been experiencing.

In order to aid in your recovery and healing, as well as to avoid any pain and discomfort in the future, you should aim to sleep in a recliner following your surgery.

In doing so, you can maintain a proper posture and positioning to decrease your recovery time and reduce damage to the repaired area while you sleep.

Since we spend around one-third of our time asleep, it is important to know the best sleeping positions after shoulder surgery, and how to make sure you fall asleep without the risk of further injury.

Sleep is one of the most important components of everyday life, and sleeping after shoulder surgery is even more so important during the recovery period. As a result, this article will aim to provide clarity about how to sleep after shoulder surgery and why it is so important, covering the following questions:

  • Why do you have to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?
  • Can you sleep with a sling on?
  • What is the best way to sleep after rotator cuff surgery?
  • How to sleep after shoulder dislocation

Topics covered on this page

Why do you have to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?

After any form of shoulder surgery, from rotator cuff repair and labral repair to arthroscopic debridement, the first 6 weeks can be particularly difficult.

This can make sleeping after shoulder surgery extremely difficult and uncomfortable, so you will be advised to sleep in a recliner since this removes any freedom to roll on to your side, which would cause discomfort and potentially disrupt your shoulder from healing, increasing your recovery time.

Here is a short video explaining how you can best sleep.

Sleeping after shoulder surgery can be made easier in a recliner as they allow you to lay down and relax without turning over. Sleeping in a reclined position puts less strain on the shoulder and any surrounding joint tissues and muscles.

You can achieve a reclined position either in a recliner chair such as a Lay-Z-Boy if you have one. If you do not, you can still fall asleep reclined in your bed if you wedge a few pillows below your back to provide support and bolster your lower and mid-back.

Around 30 minutes before you go to sleep you should aim to apply ice packs to your shoulder area.

By doing so you are reducing inflammation, numbing the pain, and providing temporary pain relief which 3 of the most important factors to facilitate sleeping after shoulder surgery.

You should do this 30 minutes before going to sleep every night.

You should remember though, do not apply anything cold such as ice directly to the area where your surgery was without wrapping it in cloth since this can damage the skin and cause irritation.

best way to sleep after rotator cuff surgery

You should aim to keep the ice on your shoulder for around 15 minutes, or until the area is sufficiently numbed and you cannot feel any pain or discomfort. The benefits you will receive from doing this before sleeping can last for up to an hour, giving you plenty of time to get comfortable and fall asleep.

Remember to avoid lying flat on your back as this has been found to be the most irritating position for sleeping after shoulder surgery.

If the soreness and/ or stiffness you have been experiencing begins to subside over time, then you can slowly, and gradually, begin to lower yourself into a more horizontal position in bed, if it feels comfortable enough and you do not wake up with any pain and discomfort.

You will probably have to sleep in a reclined position/ semi-reclined position for around 6 weeks, although this is dependent on the severity of your injury and the type of surgery you had.

"When you have shoulder surgery, you may be given a post-operative sling to wear which keeps your shoulder in place and protects it while it is healing."

Can you sleep with a sling on?

When you have shoulder surgery, you may be given a post-operative sling to wear which keeps your shoulder in place and protects it while it is healing.

These slings have an abduction pillow, which is just a small pillow that is designed to keep your shoulder slightly away from the body.

Unless you have been instructed otherwise, this sling has to be worn at all times after your shoulder surgery, and this includes at night while you sleep which can often make sleeping after shoulder surgery tricky and disrupted.

Your arm should remain in a sling for up to 6 weeks in order to improve healing and prevent it from being injured. After this, you will begin rehabilitation exercises to facilitate healing.

In order to improve your comfort while you sleep whilst protecting your shoulder from any damage, make sure that your surgical arm is elevated – you can do this if you wedge some pillows between your arm and torso.

The aim of this is to position your upper arm forwards since this has been found to put less stress on the front of the shoulder and keeps your shoulder joint ina better position to make for a more comfortable position.

While you sleep with a sling on, it is important to take any medications you have been prescribed and follow the advice of your doctor, since this can also minimize pain and discomfort and allow you to sleep without disruption.

What is the best way to sleep after rotator cuff surgery?

Sleeping after rotator cuff surgery can be uncomfortable and you might find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

The following recommendations provide some of the best ways to sleep after rotator cuff surgery, though you should always follow the advice of your doctor and the personal treatment plan you may be on.

1) Wear a sling while sleeping

As we have already stated, a sling will keep the arm stable while you are sleeping. As well as this, a sling can prevent you from moving your arm into a more uncomfortable position while you are sleeping that could cause damage to your shoulder.

2) Sleep in a reclined position

By propping yourself up in bed using some pillows, you can prevent yourself from turning over in the night on to your side / shoulder. If you tend to move around a lot while you sleep, then you may find it more comfortable and useful to invest in a recliner chair since these are designed to [recent you tossing and turning in the night.

3) Prop up your recovering arm with a pillow or two

If you put a pillow or two between your recovering arm and chest, you can take the arm away from the body which increases blood flow to the healing area while reducing cramping and numbness.

4) Listen to medical advice

Take your medication as instructed, immobilise your arm during the day as often as you can, and make sure you rest. Do not overdo any physical activity using your arms throughout the day as this will only increase your recovery time and eave you in pain even longer.

5) Go for a walk during the day

If you are allowed to, then go for a walk. This can promote blood circulation around the body and improve healing while reducing swelling and numbness. Just make sure that the walk is not too strenuous and you go at a leisurely pace to reduce any discomfort.

6) Ice your shoulder

As we have already said, an ice pack for around 15 minutes, 30 minutes before bed each night, you can reduce inflammation and promote healing. When it comes to falling asleep, be wary of the tips above to make sure you sleep on your back and prevent rolling on to your side.

If you are still suffering from pain after a few weeks of sleeping on your back in a reclined position, then you should talk to your doctor to discuss the possibility of starting physical therapy.

Physical therapy can be a good way to manage the pain and can also determine any potential complications from your surgery.

At physical therapy, you will be given some post-operative shoulder exercises which can reduce pain and improve your healing – but make sure you discuss this with your doctor first.

How to sleep after shoulder dislocation

Sleeping on your shoulder can be equally as uncomfortable and painful if you have dislocated your shoulder rather than had surgery on it.

As a result, you should try to sleep on your back or on the opposite shoulder with a pillow or two wedged under the armpit of the affected shoulder. More so, if you have been given a sling by your doctor or physiotherapist, you should wear this to bed while sleeping on your back.

You should also wedge some pillows between your lower and mid-back to improve the support and keep you reclined. You should continue to wear any sling or support brace you have been given while you sleep until you are advised otherwise by your doctor or physiotherapist.





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