Can't sleep due to shoulder pain


I recently took a 2 month break from taking methotrexate because I had a severe cold virus before Christmas and was prescribed antibiotics (and was told not to take together with methotrexate). To be honest, had Covid been around in December, I would swear I had it then! My flare ups came back with a vengeance at the end of January and I started taking methotrexate injections - which are amazing in that they have rid me of the weekly nausea.

However - since having the virus, I have suffered from excruciating pain in both shoulders which is significantly worse at night. My doctor tells me that it will take at least 4 weeks for the methotrexate to kick in (it is now 5 weeks), but no improvement thus far. I can manage 2 hours sleep max before being woken up with the pain, and it is now really getting me down.

Does anyone have any suggestions please - I was thinking of getting a different pillow - any recommendations?

Thank you


  • chrisb
    chrisb Moderator Posts: 691

    Hi @Aberjonest and welcome to the Versus Arthritis forum.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing such pain and that it limits your sleep so severely. I hope that the methotrexate kicks in soon.

    This link to our main website may be useful to you in helping to identify how to address your shoulder pain

    I’m sure other forum members will be able to share similar experiences and have some suggestions for you.

    If you feel the need to speak with someone then you can call our free Helpline on 0800 5200 520, or email (Mon - Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm).

    Best Wishes

    ChrisB (moderator)

    Need more help - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • Airwave!
    Airwave! Member Posts: 2,466

    Mine are bone on bone and extremely painful if I get their care wrong. I use a shaped pillow from IKEA with a slimmer pillow underneath, these raise my head and support it, taking the weight off of my shoulder when laying on my side. I find that any weight on my shoulders such as where I put my elbows and lower arms, increases pain in my shoulders, you have to learn to relax your shoulder muscles. Heat from a wheat bag is a great help in reducing the pain.

    Overuse, carrying weights etc are a no no. Lifting up my hands is often not on or swinging my arms, getting undressed is not easy and so it goes on, holding a pint safely is a challenge let alone a cuppa! Driving I have to relax and change my grip often. Using a walking stick hurts my hands, wrists and shoulders. Stay within all these parameters and I might get as far as a replacement......... one day? Well, that my next conversation with my GP.

  • Gemthom85
    Gemthom85 Member Posts: 26
    I have the exact same issue. Came off methotrexate cause of constant ear infection (unrelated) just started back feb. On tablets si started smaller dose an worked my way up. On hydroxychloroquine also but its now april an i cant shift the pain. Sharp shooting pain through the night in my hands and then the stiffness in whatever side i lie on.
    Rheumatology prescribed me nortryptiline to help sleep through it i guess but i still wake in pain through the night. Only difference now is the drowsiness.
    I have found icing with damp towel helpful right before bed. Still wake up with pain but least i get more of a sleep before i do. Also paracetamol 4 times a day and anti inflammatory gel. Throw everything at it until the meds take hold an calm it down.
    They said 4/5 weeks to me also but thats since feb now. But cause of stupid covid i can't get steroids or move on to biologics 🤬

    Hope it eases soon.
  • Trish9556
    Trish9556 Member Posts: 549
    edited 7. May 2020, 17:01

    I have had subacromial decompression in both shoulders, not the same problems as the root cause as yours but horrendously painful before and after surgery.the only way i slept was sat more or less upright supported by lots of pillows and a V shaped pillow. Once i found the most comfortable position i stuck with it. hope it helps. Good luck and stay safe. Xx

  • bobsmith
    bobsmith Member Posts: 1

    I've managed to avoid suicide for the time being by taking 3 or 4 cold showers each night, more or less a couple of hours apart, and practically sleeping while i do this. i find that using the shower hose on my shoulders creates immediate tolerable pain. I do this for about 20 seconds on each shoulder and upper arm area. The pain recedes immediately and i can go back to bed and fall asleep, until i wake in an hour or so in pain again. Before that i tried ice packs, creams, pain killers, tens machine. nothing worked and it was absolute agony. Steroid injections don't really work for me any more and they are refusing to give me because of corona. i'm running out of options.

    anyway, try the shower hose if you want immediate relief.