Are sore shoulders an indicator of sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Akron, Ohio on .
I wake up with very sore shoulders. My girlfriend says I only sleep with I am face down kind of pinning my self down. Others have said I have sleep apnea. Could that be true? What could I do to help it?

Doctors Answers (5)

Susan M. Welch
Answered on: 7/16/2013

Please ask your medical provider to order a sleep study. Sore neck when you wake up could be due to nighttime grinding (sleep bruxism) which has been suggested as a protective mechanism to maintain an otherwise closing or collapsing airway. Best to get a diagnosis, then treatment (of which part needs to be an occlusal orthotic) which in my experience has helped sore shoulders/neck.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 6/21/2013

If someone has observed you to stop breathing while sleeping, you certainly could have sleep apnea and should seek help for that. Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risks for a heart attack or stroke among other difficulties. As far as your shoulders are concerned, sleep apnea doesn't usually cause shoulder discomfort. If you sleep in an odd position to allow yourself to breathe better, then shoulder pain might be secondary to the sleep apnea. As always, you should consult a board certified sleep specialist.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 6/20/2013

No, sore shoulders are not an indicator of sleep apnea.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 6/20/2013

Sore Shoulders can be caused by many things, from sleep position problems, to muscle/tendon problems to bone problems. If you are concerned that this problem with shoulder pain is caused by sleep apnea, contact your primary care physician and ask for a referral to a sleep center for a sleep study. This will at least rule out this possibility or confirm it.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/20/2013

I have never heard of sore shoulders being caused by sleep apnea. One could imagine that sleeping in certain positions might produce soreness in your shoulders but that would be secondary to sleep position, not sleep apnea. That aside, if someone suggests you stop breathing at night you should tell your physician who would likely recommend a sleep medicine consult and/or a sleep study.