Sleeping Comfortably With a Pinched Nerve in Your Shoulder Blade: Tips and Relief Strategies

Experiencing a pinched nerve can be incredibly disruptive, especially when it interferes with sleep. Having a pinched nerve may make you wonder how to sleep with a pinched nerve in your shoulder blade. To find out how to sleep with a pinched nerve in your shoulder blade, it is important to understand where that pain originates.

What is a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade, and is it Real?

A pinched nerve occurs when surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons, apply excessive pressure to a nerve. This pressure can disrupt the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness.

In the case of a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade, the issue almost always originates in the neck and, in fact, has nothing to do with the shoulder. Therefore, you may think you have a pinched nerve in the shoulder, but it actually derives from the neck. Understanding this distinction is crucial, as it ensures patients seek help from the appropriate professionals. Even though the pain may be felt in the shoulder, consulting a neck and spine specialist first is usually recommended for the proper diagnosis and treatment.

The cervical nerves may become compressed due to various factors, resulting in pain that radiates toward the shoulder blade, often making patients think that there is a pinched nerve in the shoulder. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and effective relief strategies can help you learn how to sleep with a pinched nerve and improve your overall quality of life.


Several factors can contribute to a pinched nerve in the neck that affects the shoulder blade area, including:

  • Herniated discs: Discs in the cervical spine can bulge or rupture, putting pressure on nearby nerves.
  • Bone spurs: Osteoarthritis can lead to bone growths that compress nerves.
  • Poor posture: Slouching or poor alignment can strain the neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Injury: Trauma from accidents or sports injuries can result in nerve compression.


Recognizing the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck is crucial for seeking appropriate treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain: Radiating from the neck to the shoulder blade.
  • Numbness or tingling: Often felt in the shoulder, arm, or hand.
  • Muscle weakness: Difficulty in lifting or using the arm.
  • Burning sensation: A feeling of warmth or irritation along the nerve path.

How a Pinched Nerve Affects Sleep

A woman experiences pinched nerve in shoulder symptoms.A pinched nerve in the neck can make finding a comfortable sleeping position challenging, leading to restless nights and poor sleep quality. Pain and discomfort often worsen at night due to prolonged inactivity and head position, making falling and staying asleep difficult.

How to Release a Pinched Nerve

To alleviate discomfort and improve sleep quality, consider the following tips and strategies:

Optimal Sleeping Positions

  1. Sleep on your back: Proper pillow height is beneficial to maintain neutral spine alignment, reducing pressure on the neck nerves.
  2. Side sleeping with a pillow: A supportive pillow for your head and neck can help maintain proper alignment.
  3. Avoid sleeping on your stomach: This position can strain your neck and exacerbate nerve compression, increasing pain and discomfort.

Pillow Support

  1. Cervical pillows: Designed to support the natural curve of your neck, these pillows can reduce nerve compression and improve sleep posture.
  2. Adjustable pillows: Pillows with adjustable fillings allow you to customize the height and firmness to suit your comfort needs.
  3. Body pillows: These can provide additional support and help maintain alignment while side sleeping.

Stretches and Exercises

Incorporating gentle stretches and exercises into your daily routine can help alleviate the symptoms of a pinched nerve:

  1. Neck stretches: Gently tilt your head from side to side, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds to relieve tension.
  2. Shoulder rolls: Slowly roll your shoulders forward and backward to release tightness in the shoulder muscles.
  3. Chin tucks: Tuck your chin toward your chest and hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax. Repeat several times to strengthen neck muscles and improve posture.

Additional Tips

  • Heat and ice therapy: Applying a warm compress or ice pack to the affected area can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Proper ergonomics: Ensure your workstation is ergonomically set up to prevent strain on your neck and shoulders.


Dealing with a pinched nerve in the neck can be challenging, but understanding its causes and symptoms and implementing effective relief strategies can make a significant difference. Learning how to sleep with a pinched nerve can help manage discomfort and improve sleep quality, prioritize optimal sleeping positions, use supportive pillows, and incorporate gentle stretches.

If you continue to experience symptoms, seeking medical consultation is essential. Persistent pain or discomfort could indicate a more serious underlying issue that requires professional evaluation and treatment. At Town Center Orthopaedics, our neck specialists are committed to helping you find relief and improve your quality of life.

Don’t let a pinched nerve in your neck disrupt your sleep any longer. Book an appointment with an experienced neck and spine specialist today or explore more resources on our website to learn how we can help you manage your pain and improve your overall well-being.

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