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Tips: How to sleep after rotator cuff surgery

Tips: How To Sleep After Rotator Cuff Surgery

After rotator cuff surgery, obviously you’ll have to face and deal with sleeping so that you don’t put any pressure on your injured shoulder. So how to sleep after rotator cuff surgery? Get some tips with BestLifeTips in this article.

Many people have had rotator cuff surgery for the first time, and they’re confused to find out how to sleep after that. We, BestLifeTips, will give you some tips for how to sleep after rotator cuff surgery. Let’s get started!

How long after rotator cuff surgery can you sleep in a bed?

After rotator cuff surgery, you can sleep in a bed right away. But it’s much better if you choose to sleep in a recliner instead. If you don’t have a recliner, use your pillow in the bed or in the couch.

When sleeping in the bed after surgery, you should use pillows to line below your back. It’ll relieve pain and avoid touching the wound.

How long should you sleep in a recliner after rotator cuff surgery?

If you have just had rotator cuff surgery, you must be aware of the fact that you have more pain in bed at night. Because when we sleep, we may bend on one or both hands under a pillow, or sleep on one side, or move naturally to the fetal position. These positions put more pressure on your shoulders. If you sleep on an old mattress or a mattress that doesn’t give you the support your body needs, it makes the pain worse.


You should sleep on a recliner or reclined position for about 4 to 6 weeks after rotator cuff surgery. The best position for most people with shoulder surgery is the reclined position because it reduces tension in the shoulder joint and the surrounding soft tissue. Lie on a reclined position on the bed with a few pillows to strengthen your lower and middle back.

How to sleep after rotator cuff surgery?

Manage your shoulder pain before bedtime

Remember to take your medicine on time. Apply an ice pack on your injured shoulder about 30minutes before going to bed. Treating shoulder pain during sleep makes it easier to fall asleep. This is important so that your body’s healing process works with maximum efficiency.

heating pad heat therapy joint 1 grande

Source: Stuart Hinds

Wearing a sling

  • Wear sling during the day

After rotator cuff surgery, your surgeon will recommend you with a shoulder sling to wear during the day for several weeks.

The sling of the hand supports the shoulder and counteracts the effects of gravity, which exacerbates postoperative shoulder pain. Carrying a sling during day time reduces swelling and pain in the shoulder and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

Wearing an arm sling 4 compressor

  • Wear sling when you are in bed:

You should consider wearing a sling for several weeks at night. If you put your arms in a sling on a bed, with a sling on your arm that holds and supports your shoulder, your shoulders can remain stable while sleeping. It also helps prevent you from unknowingly placing your hand in an uncomfortable position while you sleep.

Even if you wear a hand sling on the bed, don’t sleep on the shoulder that has surgery because compression can cause pain and inflammation that can wake you up.

Support your arms with pillows

Support your injured arm in bed and upright with a medium-sized pillow under your elbow and arm. You can do this with or without a sling. This places the shoulder in a position that promotes good blood flow to the muscles of the joint and surrounding areas, which is important for healing. Remember to always fold your elbows and pillows firmly under your arms.


You can use cushions and rolled up blankets or towels instead of pillows. As long as it comfortably elevates your lower arm and isn’t too slippery, it’ll work fine.

It’s a good idea to line both sides of your body with softer pillows to keep you from rolling over either way. Don’t use pillows covered in satin or silk because they are too slippery as a support and barrier. You can move your bed against a wall and sleep with your injured shoulder gently against it in order to prevent rolling over.

Sleep in a recliner

The best way to ensure that you are not causing further strain to your injury is to assume a reclined resting position. For this, you can buy a recliner or a couch capable of being converted to a recliner.

You can also prop up some pillows around the head of the bed to create an inclined position. This will also help you prevent turning over unconsciously while sleeping.

Tips for how to sleep after rotator cuff surgery from patients

Wear a sling

To speed recovery, keep your shoulder immobilized after the surgery so your wound can heal.

A sling provides stability and support and serves as a good reminder not to move your arm. It’s ok to rotate your wrist and wiggle your fingers.

Take care of your sleep

Sleeping a recliner or reclined position is the best for your injured shoulder. Avoid lying on your back, because this position is often the most annoying for the shoulder after surgery.

Use pillows to help prop you up, or place something under the mattress to raise it slightly. Some people find sleeping in a recliner or wide armchair is a good solution.

Wear a sling even when you sleep to prevent too much movement and consider propping up your arm on pillows to help reduce swelling.

Ask for help

Accept offers of help from family and friends. Especially in the initial recovery period, you will need help with showering and dressing, cooking, and other chores. You’ll need other people to take you everywhere since you cannot drive.

Watch for complications

Complications are rare, but it’s really important to know the signs just in case. Call your doctor if you have extremely high fever; redness or discharge from the incision; sudden and severe pain; numbness or tingling in your fingers or hand.

Do the physical therapy

Physical therapy exercises help improve the stability, range of motion, and strength in your shoulder. Attending sessions with the physical therapist and doing the exercises at home are crucial to a successful recovery.

Stay comfortable

Rest is the key to recovery. Try to stay as comfortable as possible.

Use an ice pack to reduce inflammation during the first three to five days after surgery. After that period, heat can provide some relief for pain and stiffness.

Remember to take medicine as directed. Anti-inflammatories also help you successfully complete your physical therapy exercises.

Don’t rush your recovery

Never think that your shoulder is feeling better and then do too much too soon. Even when you’re feeling little to no pain, activities that put a strain on your shoulder can significantly increase your risk of re-injury. Resuming physical activities before your shoulder has healed also increases your chances of straining other parts of your body, like your elbow or spine.

Driving after rotator cuff surgery

Here are some ways to tell if you’re ready to drive while recovering from rotator cuff surgery.


Source: Dr. David Geier

Level of pain

During rotator cuff surgery recovery, you will probably be in a sling from 2 to 6 weeks. Until you’re out of your sling, you’d better not drive.

Once you don’t need to wear the sling anymore, evaluate your pain level. If your shoulder is in constant pain, you won’t be able to focus on your driving, and the repetitive motion of steering may make the pain worse. Also, if you are taking painkillers, it is unsafe to drive.

Driving considerations

In additional to the pain you may experience during rotator recovery, you must consider other factors. Such as the length of the trip, the driving conditions. You may be ok for a short drive but unable to go for a long distance. The driving conditions like weather, road conditions (wet, snowy, bumpy road…) may make it difficult for you to drive.

In conclusion, you should consider all the driving conditions that may happen. Can you deal with all of those? Don’t drive when you’re wearing a sling and taking pain medication. It’s better for you to drive after fully recovering after rotator cuff surgery.

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These are all the tips of how to sleep after rotator cuff surgery that BestLifeTips want to give you. Hope that this article can help you somehow. Please Like & Share this to those who have just had shoulder surgery.