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Hip Pain While Sleeping On Your Side: Causes and Treatments

Lara Vargas

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While hip pain is often felt throughout the day, it can intensify at night. The pain may hit as soon as you lay down or build up throughout the night. Either way, hip pain can make resting an impossible task.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce or outright eliminate hip pain without resorting to drastic measures.

In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of hip pain, how you can manage it, and when to start considering long-term treatments.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Hip pain can originate from a number of conditions. A sports-related injury can cause hip pain just as often as osteoarthritis. Injuries need proper care and time to heal; however, depending on the injury, treatment may vary.

Hip Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of a joint’s fluid sacs. Bursitis causes the hips to become red, swollen, achy, and stiff. We recommend to rest during the day and change sleep positions frequently while sleeping to reduce inflammation. If the swelling and pain persist, talk with your physician about other treatments.

Tendinitis

Tendon inflammation brings on tendinitis. Tendinitis affects the joints and common symptoms include tenderness, stiffness, swelling, and thickening of the tendons. You can heal tendinitis by minimizing the activity that’s irritating the tendon.

If you limit your activities involving the inflamed tendon and pain still persists, or you have suffered a loss of motion, get in contact with your physician immediately as it may be the result of a ruptured tendon.

Accident or Injury

Muscles are also susceptible to overuse. Injured hip and buttock muscles can cause inflammation and pain. You may feel muscle strain in your lower back or thighs as a result of another condition.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down is the most common form of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or septic arthritis also cause hip pain.

If your pain intensifies in the morning, during cold and wet weather, or when sedentary, the problem is likely arthritis.

Hip pain can sometimes spread beyond the hips. You can feel the pain in the groin, buttocks, and knee. We suggest getting a medium mattress that relieves pressure points and allows for enough mobility on the surface to prevent joint strain.

Sciatic-Piriformis Syndrome

Sciatic-piriformis syndrome is the result of the piriformis spasming and placing pressure on the sciatic nerve. The piriformis is a muscle that helps the hips move and crosses over the sciatic nerve to extend down the lower back and the back of the legs. Piriformis syndrome results from an underused piriformis suddenly being strained or from an overworked piriformis.

Those with sciatic-piriformis syndrome will feel numbness and tingling through the buttocks and back of the legs. They may also experience soreness, pain, and discomfort in the buttocks while sitting or performing other daily tasks.

Other Causes of Hip Pain

Some causes of hip pain are related to your lifestyle or life stages. For instance, during pregnancy or after surgery, hip pain may develop and make it hard to sleep. Using pillows to elevate your legs or cushion the knees to relieve pain.

After the age of 50, you may develop stiffness in your joints. This is the result of your body’s natural aging process; however, you can keep your body in good condition by remaining active throughout your life.

Overweight individuals have more weight on their joints, which can cause tendonitis, arthritis, and other health issues. Losing weight takes pressure off your joints and may decrease your pain.

Sleep Position

Your sleep position can easily cause discomfort. Pressure points may develop on your body after long periods of lying in one position, causing muscle and joint pain and potentially long-term discomfort.

Back sleeping can place pressure on the lower back causing pain that may spread to the hips. If you’re a back sleeper with hip pain, we recommend switching to side sleeping to relieve the tension.

Stomach sleepers overextend their backs, forcing their spines to straighten and straining muscles and ligaments. Overextending the back may lead to herniated discs, sciatica, and other types of lower back pain, which may lead to hip pain. The best mattresses for stomach sleeping are often firm to prevent this overextension, but in order to best avoid pain, we suggest transitioning to side sleeping.

Sleeping on your side does put a lot of weight on your shoulders and hips, which can lead to pressure points if you’re sleeping on an uncomfortable bed. A mattress with a medium feel can help alleviate pressure and prevent hip pain.

Hip Pain Management

When you lose sleep, your pain sensitivities increase, which may interfere with deep sleep even more. Use sleep hygiene tactics to reduce pain, increase sleep, and put an end to the painful cycle.

Low Impact Exercise

Working out regularly can keep your body strong, although pain may stop someone with chronic symptoms from participating in sports or exercising routines involving high joint impact such as running or jumping rope. Instead, focus on low-impact exercises that don’t irritate already-inflamed joints.

We recommend exercises like swimming. Water sports will reduce joint shock and help chronic pain sufferers remain physically active without aggravating inflammation.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term describing good sleep habits. It includes everything from your sleep environment to your bedtime routine to the amount of exercise you get. If you’re in pain, you may make changes to your sleep hygiene to improve your sleep quality, which can reduce your pain.

Change Your Sleep Position

If you find yourself waking up frequently from pain, try rolling to another position. While you may find yourself in your preferred position when you wake-up, falling asleep in a different position can decrease painful pressure points and pain.

Pillow Support

Pillows can support more than the head. One or two pillows between the knees can improve hip alignment and alleviate pressure. A wedge-shaped pillow under the hips will also offer pressure and pain relief.

Side sleepers may experience pain from their stomach and back muscles straining to maintain balance on the side of the body. Using a body pillow to support the back or stomach will prevent muscle strain, helping the sleeper get the rest they need. Of course, don’t forget to use a comfortable pillow under your head to promote proper spinal alignment and alleviate pain.

Mattress Topper

Mattress toppers are great to temporarily fix a sagging mattress or extend the life of an old mattress.

Often times, when your sleeping position generates pain, your mattress is the wrong firmness. A mattress that’s too soft or firm can cause painful pressure points, a misaligned spine, or strained joints.

If you have a mattress that’s too soft or firm, you may consider getting a mattress topper to change the mattress’s feel and alleviate pressure points.

Get a Supportive Mattress

While getting a topper is a good solution to fixing an unsupportive mattress, sometimes investing in the best mattress for hip pain is the best option.

The best mattress for side sleepers is a medium mattress that provides pressure relief and comfort while offering enough firmness, so the sleeper can move around on the mattress surface without straining their joints.

Innerspring, latex, hybrid, and memory foam mattresses come in a variety of firmnesses, although we recommend memory foam for its supportiveness and conformability. The material relieves pressure and pain while promoting an aligned spine.

Start Stretching

Always stretch before exercising, turning in for bed, and when you get up in the morning. Simple stretches, such as touching your toes, will increase your range of motion and reduce pain. However, overextending yourself can cause injury. Ask your physician what exercises will help reduce pain and improve your mobility.

Over-the-counter Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, may relieve swelling. Before taking anti-inflammatories, talk to your doctor to ensure they don’t conflict with any prescribed medications.

Hot and Cold Treatments

Ice or heat treatments may relieve pain. For initial pain, use a cold compress. It will reduce inflammation, which can help the body heal faster. Heat packs relieve muscle tension and aching and should be used if the pain continues for more than a few days.

Physical Therapy

Weak muscles may cause hip pain. A physical therapist can identify the cause of the pain and develop the best treatment plan to strengthen those muscles and reduce the pain.

If you’re looking for a stretching routine to increase your range of motion, a physical therapist can suggest the most effective way.

When to Seek a Physician’s Help

Most chronic pain conditions are easiest to treat in the early stages. If you ignore the injury, it can evolve into something more serious.

If you have tried adjusting your sleeping habits, stretching, over-the-counter pain relievers, and given the injury time to heal but the pain has only become more intense, consult your doctor and discuss more serious treatments: hip replacement surgery, draining the fluid from the bursae, steroid injections, or arthroscopic surgery.

Conclusion

You can make lifestyle changes to avoid hip pain preventing sleep by improving your sleep hygiene. We highly suggest working with your doctor to ensure the best treatment and prevent long-term pain.

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