Sleeping Upright
December 10, 2022 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I messed up my left shoulder and neck on Thursday and the only way I can get everything from totally locking up and leaving me frozen in pain is staying active. I gotta get sleep, though, and I can't figure out how to do that because even sitting is dangerous. What now?? 😩
posted by The Adventure Begins to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Does heat help? Maybe a heating pad on the sore muscles while you lay halfway back on a ramp of pillows.

Or sit up in a chair with sides, so you don't skimp too far over?

That sounds rough; good luck.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:13 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: Can someone wake up and give you massages periodically during the night?

I assume you're taking NSAID, naproxen is best because it'll last all night.
posted by flimflam at 8:22 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need to see a doctor or physical therapist. Sorry, but very little of what we can say here will be of any particular use in your specific situation.

(I’ve used a complicated system of pillows to hold me upright and I should have just seen a professional.)
posted by aramaic at 8:27 PM on December 10, 2022 [15 favorites]

Best answer: I use salon pas or a heating pad, in combo with OTC pain meds, for everyday back pain. Sometimes hot baths with Epsom salts. Your situation sounds much worse.

Do you have access to medical care? Anything we can do to help you sort that out?
posted by bunderful at 8:58 PM on December 10, 2022

Response by poster: Just need a short term sleep solution -- if this persists through Monday I'll get on the phone with my GP and ask for some kind of muscle relaxer. I can't drive with such limited range of motion so I can't get to a pharmacy tonight, but will attempt in the morning if I don't find myself bed bound.

I wish I had someone to give me massages. :( I asked my cat and she said no.
posted by The Adventure Begins at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: What if you sleep for say two sleep cycles (3-4 hours), wake up and move, then try again?
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:06 PM on December 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Stiffening up and freezing in place is necessary to allow tissue repair to begin. It’s like a cast.

And inflammation is also a part of the healing process. I think you will heal more rapidly if you minimize anti-inflammatories as much as possible.
posted by jamjam at 9:09 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: If I were you, I'd figure out exactly which muscle(s) are messed up (if it's muscles), or which muscles are protecting the specific area in question.

Then, you can search for some physical therapy exercises geared to that specific injury, that you can do at home without equipment.

If you end up having to sleep on your back, and you're not used to that, I suggest making a slope for your upper body to raise your head and back slightly -- it will help ensure you have an open airway.
posted by amtho at 9:25 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: My "must sleep on my back" post-surgery set-up was four pillows - head, one on either side, and one under the knees. I never woke up in the wrong arrangement this way.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: Do you have access to magnesium tablets?

They're a muscle relaxant and will help with the pain and stiffness.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding magnesium tablets, also volteren has kept me from going crazy with pain the last few weeks. I took a tumble on my bike and have a fractured tibia, and rubbing voltaren into the area three to four times a day has been a lifesaver. It's available in almost every pharmacy usually under various names but it's generic name is diclofenac. To kick the pain initially I had to apply once and then an hour later apply again. Since then it's been maintenence and I'm gradually increasing the time between applying. Also listen to the application instructions on the box regarding amount, I apply a lot more than I would've thought necessary each time.
posted by newpotato at 12:36 AM on December 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would also suggest getting yourself to an orthopedic ER if there's any near you and not waiting until Monday. I know these usually only exist in major cities, so it may not be available to you, but you don't want to make it worse and you may be able to get relief sooner rather than later.
posted by newpotato at 12:42 AM on December 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Ahahahhahaa so despite my best efforts to build myself a structured pillow fort with dense pillows from my couch I passed out and slept on my side like I normally do and now my shoulder is kind of stuck all the way up against my ear because I scrunched it when I was sleeping. Going to take a shower to unlock it and then slowly make my way to urgent care since the closest ER is no longer in network and I cannot afford out of network fees right now.

Having a body is dumb.
posted by The Adventure Begins at 7:07 AM on December 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You could consider a physiotherapist for this kind of injury. They can normally assess the mechanics of an injury like this and recommend a care plan (likely in this case to do nothing and allow inflamation to come down first – if you did this Thursday and have been moving around since, it really hasn't been long). They may be able to do some physical work to loosen up muscles that are exacerbating the pain. An urgent care may not be able to do much to help you. But if it's the first time you've injured yourself in this way, urgent care may be warranted. /Not a doctor so take with a shake of salt.
posted by lookoutbelow at 8:02 AM on December 11, 2022

Best answer: Would one of these travel turtleneck wraps help you sleep? I use something similar to sleep on a plane while sitting. They keep my head from falling forward.
posted by gt2 at 10:41 AM on December 11, 2022

Best answer: You need sleep to heal & I think you just have to sleep in the best position that you can & then gently mobilise everything again in the morning.
Source: I recently broke my wrist, fixed with a plate & screws, and have long-standing neck arthritis. When I wake I use my good hand to get a coffee & anti inflammatory painkillers, then take those back to bed. I then sit in bed for a while, watching something mindless on my phone, while gradually stretching & moving my wrist & neck until I feel functional enough to get dressed.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 12:26 AM on December 12, 2022

Response by poster: Y'all -- a miracle happened. I managed to get myself to a pharmacy (urgent care was closed) and I realized thanks this question I haven't had aspirin in like 10 years. The lowest dose succeeded where the max doses of Tylenol and Advil didn't! While I'm no longer in pain there is definitely something wrong still with my shoulder, so I've asked for a referral to a physio because this is such an out of the norm body problem for me.

Thank you for helping me feel better and ultimately do what I most wanted: sleep!!
posted by The Adventure Begins at 9:03 PM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

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