Hip pain at night can keep you awake for hours on end, and sometimes it might prevent you from falling asleep altogether.
There are many causes of hip pain. The position you sleep in, arthritis, chronic pain, certain medical conditions, and injuries can all lead to hip pain and discomfort, especially during the night. When pain occurs, it is important to know what’s causing it, what you can do, and when it is necessary to visit your doctor.
Read on to find out the most common causes and remedies for hip pain at night, and say goodbye to sleepless nights.
What Can Cause Hip Pain at Night?
There are several conditions that can cause hip pain at night:
• Sciatic-piriformis syndrome
• Pelvic issues
• Different injuries
Apart from the conditions above, hip pain at night can also be caused by the quality of your mattress and pillows as well as your sleep position. It is also possible to have referred hip pain, which occurs when the pain in your lower back causes your hips to hurt as well.
Whatever the cause of your pain is, it is important to find out more about it. By doing so, you’ll be able to deal with it easier and learn how to fight it. You’ll promote better health and quality of life when you’re pain-free.
Hip Pain Caused by Bursitis
Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the bursae — the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion your joints. When the sacs cushioning your hips get inflamed, bursitis occurs. Symptoms of bursitis include:
• Sharp pain that gradually develops into a dull ache.
• Pain localized on the outside of your hip and your inner thighs.
• Strong pain when you stand up after sitting for a long time.
• Pain worsening when you lie on the side of the affected hip.
The type of pain caused by bursitis worsens the more you rest and lie down. On the other hand, walking and physical activity actually help the pain subside.
The most common cause of bursitis are repetitive motions that put pressure on your joints. Such motions include lifting heavy loads, throwing something heavy repeatedly, etc.
Changing the way you perform daily tasks and approach your hobbies can help prevent bursitis. Some stretching and exercise, as well as pain medication, will help lessen the pain. But, if your hip area is badly swollen, too sensitive to the touch, and if you are having trouble moving the joint, you should see your doctor right away.
Hip Pain Caused by Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a disease that is the result of joint cartilage breakdown. The symptoms include pain, stiffness, joint inflexibility, bone spurs, and swelling. Though the damage to the cartilage cannot be reversed, the symptoms and pain can be managed.
Regular exercise, stretching, and walking can do wonders for people struggling with osteoarthritis. Said activities will ensure that hip pain at night isn’t a problem, and with the additional help of anti-inflammatory creams or gels, you’ll be able to sleep peacefully.
If your pain does not lessen and the stiffness only becomes worse with time, visit your doctor.
Hip Pain Caused by Sciatic-Piriformis Syndrome
The SP syndrome, often called Sciatica, causes pain along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve goes from the lower back through the hips and backside down each leg. When something compresses a part of the nerve, pain and inflammation occur.
The biggest symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates from the lower back to the hips and down the legs. The pain can be dull and not as strong in mild cases and rather strong and sharp in more severe ones. Numbness and stiffness can also occur. One part of your leg can even be stiff while the other is numb.
Though the symptoms usually go away by themselves after up to ten days, this condition can also turn severe. If you are experiencing extreme muscle weakness and pain at night, or if you are having trouble controlling your bladder and bowels, go and see your doctor right away.
Hip Pain Caused by Tendinitis
Tendinitis is a condition caused by the inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are the cords that attach muscles to bones. Symptoms include dull pain, tenderness, and mild swelling. In fact, tendinitis is one of the most common causes of hip pain at night.
In most cases, tendinitis can be treated easily. All you need is rest, physical therapy, and exercise, as well as pain medication. But, if the case is severe and the tendon ends up breaking, surgery is the best option.
Hip Pain Caused by Pregnancy
Pregnancy puts extra pressure on your spine and hips, especially when the due date is nearing. Pregnancy hip pain will naturally disappear once the baby is born. But, there are things you can do to lessen your symptoms.
Firstly, it is important to not sit in the same position for too long if that is possible. So, try walking around a bit or doing some light stretches. Secondly, sleep on your side as much as possible, because that will make you more comfortable. Finally, pregnancy pillows are also an option.
Try all of the recommended solutions and find what works best for you since everyone is different.
Hip Pain Caused by Your Sleep Position
The position you sleep in can also cause hip pain at night. If you wake up every morning with stiffness and soreness in your hip area, it is most likely due to sleeping in an unnatural position.
Sleeping on your back would be the best solution for the pain, but if you don’t like sleeping that way (or can’t due to a health condition), you can try knee pillows. They help keep your hips aligned while you sleep — you simply put the pillow between your knees while you sleep on your side, and it will keep your hips in a natural position, reducing the pain.
Your mattress might cause hip pain as well. If it is too soft or too hard, it could trigger some pressure points which can then lead to soreness and stiffness. Finding a mattress that is neither too hard nor too soft should thus be a priority.
Managing Hip Pain at Night
There are things you can try that will offer immediate relief and let you go back to sleep, and there are solutions that will offer long-term relief as well.
The majority of hip pain cases aggravate at night due to lying on the painful soft tissues directly to the back or the side of the hip. When you’re lying on the other side, the soft tissue structures can be put in a stretched position.
As mentioned above, changing your sleep position could offer some immediate pain relief. Try adjusting in bed and finding the position in which your hip hurts the least. That position will relieve any pressure that might be causing the pain and should help you get back to sleep.
Folding up a blanket or pillow to create a wedge-like shape and putting it underneath your aching hip could also be helpful. The pillow or blanket will cushion your joint and decrease the soreness and stiffness. Putting a pillow between your knees or thighs could also help.
Check the following tips to avoid pain at night in a particular sleep position:
• Buy Good Pillows: You can find pillows suitable to your sleep position, such as pillows for side sleepers. Single-piece foam pillows are recommended for side sleepers. They have cushion to avoid hip pain and conform well to the head and neck. Foam pillows provide stronger support as compared to shredded foam and other fill materials.
• Invest in a Good Quality Mattress: Not all mattresses have the same quality when it comes to material, craftsmanship, and other relevant features. Some types of mattresses are more suitable to certain sleepers. For example, memory foam is recommended for back sleepers who frequently experience lower back pain. It distributes weight evenly which provides responsive body support. For extra support, innerspring mattresses are the best way to go.
• Best Sleep Practices: Avoid hip pain during sleep by changing your sleeping position until you find the least pain-reducing sleep position. For superior cushioning, place a wedge-shaped pillow under your hip. It would help sleeping with pillows under and between your knees, reducing stress across the hips.
Of course, painkillers can also help. Over-the-counter meds such as ibuprofen, (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can bring immediate relief. Make sure you consult your doctor before taking any of them, and always follow dosage instructions.
Your doctor might also prescribe topical anti-inflammatories. Examples are different types of gels or creams, such as Solaraze or Voltaren. These gels work by either warming or cooling your muscles and joints.
Heating or Cooling
Applying heat or ice to the affected area could also help.
Wrap some ice in a towel and put it on your hip. Ice is especially good if there is also swelling.
You can help your muscles and joints warm up by using a heating pad, a heat wrap, or simply a bottle with warm water.
Still, all of the above will only solve the problem temporarily. What can you do to get rid of hip pain permanently?
Changing your mattress or putting a foam pad over your existing one should be your first step.
Then, you should discuss different types of treatments with your doctor. Which treatment option you choose depends on what’s causing your pain and how severe it is.
Check the following treatments that your doctor may recommend:
- Undergoing physical therapy
- Getting regular massage
- Fluid removal from the bursa
- Arthroscopic surgery (removal of the bursa)
- Cortisone or steroid injections into the hip joint or bursa
- Lubricating the hip joint through hyaluronic acid injections
- Arthritis medicines, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Removal of loose cartilage pieces or bone spurs
- Hip resurfacing to replace damaged bone
- Total hip replacement surgery
Most doctors will recommend either physical therapy or exercising. Remember to always opt for low-impact exercises, though. You don’t want to overdo it and make your pain worse.
Swimming, other types of water exercise, and walking are the best options for hip pain management. Something else you could try is yoga or tai chi. There is also one thing you should try to avoid as much as possible, and that is sitting or lying in the same position for too long.
Stretching regularly will also help with your hip pain. You can stretch during the day at random times, but the most important thing is that you stretch before bed. By doing so, you will make sure no pain keeps you up all night. It is also good to stretch your hip before exercising or going for a walk.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is rather important for managing hip pain at night.
Make sure you go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day. It is important that you don’t eat right before going to bed and that you avoid drinking alcohol to help you sleep.
Something you could also try to help you relax before bed is a warm bath or a long shower. Having a relaxation routine before bed has proven to help many people fall asleep easier and feel more rested in the morning.
When to See a Doctor
If your pain is severe and does not go away or at least lessen after a week, it would be best to go and see your doctor. You should also seek help if you cannot move your hip, can’t walk, or if the joint is completely numb. Any problems with the bladder or bowel control are red flags as well, so never ignore those.
All in all, even if you’re not sure what is causing your pain, talking to your doctor is never a bad idea. They will know what to do and will give you advice on how to proceed.
Hip pain at night can be a rather jarring problem. It can be caused by different issues, injuries, your sleeping position, the quality of your sleep hygiene, and so on. Whatever its cause, different courses of treatment are possible. Options include exercise, stretching, pain medication, or even surgery in severe cases.
The most important thing to do when you start experiencing hip pain at night is to do lots of research and talk to a medical professional. So if any of the solutions provided above don’t work for you, don’t despair. Take it easy, and take your time figuring out what you need to do to make your life easier. There are many solutions you are yet to see, and one of them will surely work!