Why You May Be Having Elbow and Shoulder Pain at Night

Do you suffer with elbow and shoulder pain? Does the pain normally happen at night? You’ll be relieved to know that you are not alone. Many people suffer from elbow and shoulder pain due to wear and tear over time, or injury like a tear in your tendons or a strain. But, did you know that there are three disorders that can exacerbate shoulder pain at night? These disorders include:

The related inflammation in each disorder can tug on the joint of your shoulder, like when lying on your side, causing pain, stiffness, and discomfort. You may also experience:

  • Numbness
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Tingling Sensation (down to your fingers)  

About the Elbow and Shoulder

Your elbow is a flexible joint that connects your upper arm to your forearm, which allows your lower arm more flexibility.

Your shoulder is dubbed a “ball-and-socket” joint due to how the circular shape of your upper arm conforms into the hollow socket within your shoulder blade. These joints are the most flexible joints in your body and are extremely flexible.

Your elbow and your shoulder are connected via tendons, ligaments, and various other soft tissues. 

  • Tendons join bones in muscles. 
  • Ligaments link bones to other bones

A light overlay of cartilage envelops these areas and alleviates friction while you’re mobile. Now, you might encounter some discomfort and pain if there’s an injury, damage, or disease. You may also notice a diminished range of motion and numbness. 

Specific Conditions That Affect the Shoulder and Elbow

There are several new and preexisting disorders that can trigger shoulder pain:

Bursitis – Inflammation of the bursae, a small, fluid-filled sac that lubricates and shields your muscles, bones, and tendons surrounding your elbow and shoulder.

Arthritis – Also called osteoarthritis, which is caused by degeneration or loss of cartilage. Cartilage is the flexible coating in between your bones. 

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome is a result of pressure placed on the elbow or shoulder from prolonged use, leaning on, or placed awkwardly.

Elbow or Shoulder Arthrosis – Injury to the shoulder or elbow joint that causes damage to cartilage due to the rubbing of your bones, resulting in loss of mobility and pain.

“Frozen” Elbow – “Frozen” elbow describes limited mobility and pain due to progressive deterioration of your elbow, leading to scar tissue in the joint of your elbow.

Elbow and Shoulder Damage

Some common elbow and shoulder wounds include:

Tennis Elbow – Inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles, causing swelling and pain.

Golfer’s Elbow – Inflammation of the elbow joint where the bone and tendon are attached. Causes pain, restricted movement, and swelling.

Tendonitis – Inflammation and irritation of the shoulder or elbow tendon, causing pinching of the nerves and tendons. 

Rotator Cuff Injury – An assortment of tendons and muscles encompassing the shoulder joint to keep the upper arm bone securely in your elbow’s socket. 

Dislocation of Elbow or Shoulder – The bone dislodges and shifts out of the joint. It can damage surrounding muscles, nerves, and tendons.

Joint Overload of Elbow or Shoulder – Inflammation and pain due to wear and tear from activities such as: 

  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Swimming

What About Treatment for Elbow and Shoulder Disorders?

Initially, elbow and shoulder pain can be remedied using the R.I.C.E. method: 

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation 

OTC medications, such as NSAIDs like Advil and Motrin, will also relieve pain and swelling. Sometimes, the use of a brace, sling, or splint may be required. Sometimes, physical therapy or pain injection treatments may be necessary for pain relief.

What About Surgery?

Surgery will likely be discussed if no treatment has successfully relieved your pain and discomfort. Typical surgical procedures related to elbow and shoulder injuries include:


If you are experiencing chronic pain, the team at AOA Orthopedics is equipped with certified and skilled pain management specialists who will provide you with quality treatments to alleviate your pain. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pain specialists. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you on your journey to a less painful life. Use the form below to get in touch with our team. 

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