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Hip Pain at Night

by Patty Weasler, RN March 23, 2022 0 Comments


woman sleeping

Hip pain at night can cause you to toss and turn to find the most comfortable sleeping position. The pain can be caused by an injury, your sleeping position, or a chronic condition. There are several ways you can support your hip joint at night in order to finally get a good night’s sleep. Read on to learn the causes of hip pain at night and the right sleeping positions to manage those conditions properly.

Common Causes of Nighttime Hip Pain

Hip pain at night can be caused by several things. The most common conditions will be discussed below.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women know how pregnancy can take a toll on their bodies. But did you know that pregnancy is one of the common causes of hip pain? The physical changes in your body strain and stress your lower back, hips, and several other joints. On top of that, the relaxin hormone that is released during pregnancy loosens and widens the pelvis which can lead to hip and back pain.  

Sleeping Position

If you wake up at night with hip pain then it’s time to evaluate your sleeping position. If you are a side sleeper you might be putting excess pressure on your hip. Try flipping onto your other side or laying on your back for pain relief. Put a pillow under or between your knees for support. Another culprit might be your mattress. Mattresses that are too soft or too firm won’t give you adequate support.

Adjust Your Sleeping Posture

Bursitis

Your body has over 100 fluid-filled sacs that protect your joints from irritation and rubbing. These sacs are called bursae. In hip bursitis, a bursa in the hip joint is inflamed causing pain during the day and at night. It worsens when you have been sitting for long periods and after walking. Sleeping can be a challenge as the pain doesn’t stop when you lay down. Thankfully, with rest, medication, and time bursitis can heal and pain will stop.

More on Hip Bursitis

Osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage in the hip joint. As the bones rub together it causes pain and inflammation which can make sleeping a tough task. Sufferers may also experience stiffness that worsens over time and is especially bad in the morning. There are several ways to manage arthritis pain, medication, heat, and exercise to name a few. But as a chronic condition, it will never completely go away.

Arthritis of the Hip

Tendonitis

Hip tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons (which connect bone to muscle) causing pain, swelling, and difficulty sleeping. It can be caused by overuse or injury. The symptoms of hip tendonitis are pain and soreness when you bend at the hips as you walk or climb stairs. Some people also feel stiffness in the morning.

Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is caused by an injury to the tendons surrounding your hip or the bursa. In some people, it can also be caused by damage to the structures surrounding the hip like the iliotibial tibial band (ITB). People who have GTPS tend to have more pain when they sleep on the affected side, stand for too long, sit cross legged, and walk long distances. 

Best Sleeping Positions for Hip Pain

There is no one best sleep position for hip pain. It will vary from person to person based on the cause of their pain. Keep adjusting your position until you find something that relieves your pain. If you are sleeping on your back put a wedge pillow under your knees to take the pressure off of your lower back. Side sleepers should use a pillow in between their knees and flip to the opposite side to see if that eliminates their pain. Pillows keep the spine in proper alignment which will reduce hip, back, and knee pain.

Tips for Sleeping with Hip Pain

You can do more than just change your sleeping position to manage your nighttime hip pain. Take a look at our best tips and treatment options to help you get a good night’s rest.

Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen are great options to reduce hip pain at night. These medications both reduce pain and inflammation, allowing you to finally get some sleep. Most people find these drugs are easily tolerated but always check first with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that they will not cause you any unintended side effects.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Our busy schedules make it hard to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. But one way to help ensure a restful night is to practice good sleep hygiene. This means avoiding your phone or computer for an hour before bed, going to bed at the same time every night, and staying away from caffeine and alcohol. A consistent nighttime schedule will signal to your brain that it’s time for sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night long.

Exercises & Physical Therapy

Talk with a physical therapist about your hip pain. Communicate effectively and let them know that your hip pain increases at night or when you wake up in the morning. Regular physical therapy sessions and performing routine stretches and exercises can help to relieve tight muscles and hip ligaments to improve nighttime symptoms.

How to Stretch Hip Flexors

Lower Stress

This is easier said than done but it needs to be done. Keeping stress levels down with some simple techniques at home can make a world of difference in your sleep. Participate in low-impact exercise like yoga or swimming. Engage in daily meditation or mindfulness activities. Hip pain can take so much from you, it’s time to give back to yourself.

Heat

The heat from a heating pad or hot water bottle is incredibly soothing when you have hip pain. Use the heat when you are getting into bed to relax your muscles. The warm will increase the blood flow to the area which can also improve healing time. Heat is also nice in the morning when you get up to reduce stiffness, especially if you suffer from arthritis pain. Just remember never to sleep with a heat source as it can cause serious skin injury.

How Heat Helps Inflammation

Reduce Hip Pain at Night

Hip pain at night can make sleeping a tough task. The first step is to identify the cause of your pain. Whether it’s arthritis, an injury, or tendonitis--knowing the cause will make treatment more successful. Your treatment can be as simple as a heating pad, NSAID, and gentle exercise. Before you begin treatment talk to your doctor to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321144

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN



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