Hip pain affects millions of Americans, with symptoms that can take a toll on just about every type of activity — even sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for every aspect of health and wellness, including helping you manage pain. The cruel irony: Hip pain makes it hard to get restful sleep, which in turn can make your pain harder to bear.
Lots of problems can cause hip pain, and identifying the root cause is essential for finding a treatment that provides long-term meaningful pain relief. At his Houston, Texas, practice, Joshua D. Harris, MD, uses comprehensive diagnostic techniques ranging from physical examination to state-of-the-art hip arthroscopy to tailor hip pain treatment to each patient’s unique needs.
Nighttime hip pain: Possible causes
When many people think of hip pain, they think of arthritis — and for good reason: Arthritis is a major source of hip pain and related symptoms, especially among older people and people who use their legs and hips a lot for work or play.
Over time, the protective layer of cartilage that coats the ends of the hip bones starts to wear away, increasing friction — and pain — inside the joint. If you have arthritis, you might have other symptoms, like stiffness, reduced range of motion, or swelling around the joint.
But while arthritis is one possible cause of nighttime hip pain, it’s not the only possible source. Other potential causes include:
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Hip impingement
- Labral tears
- Hamstring problems
The good news is, most hip pain causes can be treated conservatively, with a little TLC and appropriate medical care.
Managing nighttime hip pain
Keeping your hips comfortable so you can get a good night’s sleep can be challenging, but these tips can help.
Do some stretching
Stretching before bed helps relieve muscle strain and spasms that can flare up once you’re in a prone position. Avoid strenuous exercises that could make you more alert, and focus on gentle stretches or yoga.
Use a pillow — or two
Whether you sleep on your side or on your back, using a pillow under or between your knees can help support your hips and prevent pain. Be sure to support your lower back, too, to prevent sciatica, another cause of hip pain.
Get more exercise
You’ve heard the saying, “Use it or lose it.” That’s especially true for your joints. Physical activity helps joints stay lubricated and promotes flexibility and strength. Being more active during the day helps reduce hip pain at night, and it also makes it easier to fall asleep.
Maintain a healthy weight
Excess pounds put extra strain on your joints, especially the large, weight-bearing joints. Losing extra pounds reduces that strain to help reduce hip pain that could otherwise keep you awake.
Ask about physical therapy
Physical therapy focuses on exercises and stretches designed to strengthen the muscles that support your hips to help reduce strain on your joints. These exercises can also improve hip flexibility, reduce stiffness, and improve circulation for reduced inflammation and better healing.
Use ice and heat
Ice packs and heating pads can help relieve pain, relax tight muscles, and reduce inflammation prior to bed. You can use either one on its own or alternate hot and cold, depending on your symptoms.
Take an over-the-counter pain medicine
Taking an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) helps relieve both pain and inflammation to help you drift off and stay asleep. Always follow directions and ask Dr. Harris about possible interactions with other medications you may be taking before using any over-the-counter product.
Schedule a hip evaluation
You should schedule a medical evaluation for any type of hip pain that doesn’t go away, gets worse over time, or interferes with daily activities, including sleep. Having an early medical evaluation helps Dr. Harris tailor a treatment plan to help you feel better fast — and to prevent an underlying problem from getting worse. Delaying care also delays relief, and in some instances, it could lead to permanent disability.
Don’t ignore your hip pain
Chronic hip pain rarely resolves on its own, but it can be relieved with tailored medical treatment. To learn how we can help, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.