Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits accumulate in the tendons or muscles. Symptoms include inflammation and pain. As a result, a person may find it difficult to sleep, especially when these deposits are in the shoulder joint.

Typically, symptoms develop gradually, with the pain worsening over time.

This article offers some tips for sleeping while living with shoulder pain due to calcific tendonitis.

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Getting a good night’s sleep with calcific tendonitis can be challenging. This is especially true for side sleepers used to sleeping on their shoulders.

Nevertheless, the following examples may help a person with calcific tendonitis in the shoulder get enough rest.

Ice the shoulder before bed

Icing the shoulder before bed may help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Research included in a 2021 study suggests that applying ice for 15–20 minutes lowers skin temperature and can reduce pain and inflammation. To prevent an ice burn, a person should wrap the ice in a towel to avoid direct contact with the skin.

Take pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications

Taking pain relievers before bed may reduce discomfort and help a person get to sleep.

Shoulder pain may become difficult to manage with over-the-counter pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen. If this occurs, a person should speak with a doctor. The doctor can recommend alternative treatment options if the shoulder is not healing and is still causing pain.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other anti-inflammatory medications help to reduce inflammation. As a result, they are effective at alleviating muscle and tendon pain.

NSAIDs are also the primary treatment for calcific tendinitis. Taking them before bed may help reduce shoulder pain enough to make falling asleep easier.

Practice mindfulness techniques

The goal of mindfulness techniques is to promote a state of relaxation. They may be beneficial for people who live with shoulder pain and cannot fall asleep easily.

A small 2018 study found that athletes with injuries had increased pain tolerance after practicing mindfulness. The technique involved a 20-minute daily meditation practice, which included yoga, mindful breathing, and body scanning.

Another small 2022 study found that brain education meditation helped reduce chronic shoulder pain. This technique uses breathing postures and rhythmic body movement.

However, as the samples in these studies were small, further research is necessary.

Practice therapeutic exercises before bed

Shoulder pain can make falling asleep very difficult. However, people with calcific tendonitis may benefit from gentle shoulder exercises to help reduce pain and restore range of motion.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional about which exercises may work best and how to perform them safely.

Maintain a good sleep routine

For people who live with chronic or other types of pain, practicing good sleep hygiene may help them feel rested and refreshed. This includes getting enough hours of sleep each night. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this approach.

A 2023 review suggests that mindfulness techniques may be the most promising for reducing pain and improving sleep. The authors note that more studies on what part of the day people practice these techniques may be needed.

Treatment for calcific tendonitis depends on how severe the calcium deposits are. Generally, it starts with NSAID or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. A clinician will then put the arm in a sling. If there is little range of motion, a person may also need to practice physical exercises.

When a person needs more intensive treatment, a doctor may suggest:

  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy: With this therapy, a clinician uses a machine to direct low energy shockwaves to the area causing a person pain. It may help to provide pain relief.
  • Barbotage treatment: In this procedure, a doctor uses a needle to break up the calcium deposits. They also use ultrasound technology to guide the procedure.
  • Surgery: When other treatments do not help, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery to manually remove the calcium deposits.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), a person should contact a doctor if their shoulder pain does not go away within 2 weeks.

However, if pain is severe and causes significant discomfort, a person should contact a doctor right away. It is also important to keep their healthcare team informed about how the shoulder is responding to treatment.

A healthcare professional may be able to recommend lifestyle changes and other treatments if a person is having difficulty sleeping.

Calcific tendonitis causes shoulder pain that impacts a person’s sleep. Several home remedies may help, such as cooling the shoulder with ice and maintaining a good sleep routine.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain as the shoulder heals. This may make falling asleep easier.

Practicing mindfulness techniques may also increase sleepiness at bedtime by promoting a state of relaxation. Examples include meditation and breathing postures.

People with calcific tendonitis should consider speaking with a doctor about which treatments may work best for them. They should also inform a healthcare professional if their pain worsens or does not improve or with treatment.