Up to 90% of people with chronic joint pain don’t sleep well. And that could be influencing your pain and mobility the next day. If you suffer from hip pain at night, it could be affecting your chances of recovering completely from the injury or condition that caused your pain. In this post we’ll talk about 17 tried-and-true methods for relieving your pain. After, we’ll discuss some of the more common causes of hip pain in more detail.
What causes hip pain at night?
Causes of hip pain at night include:
- Sleeping on a bad mattress
- Soreness or overuse from exercise
- Tight muscles
- Hip bursitis
- Hip osteoarthritis
- Pelvic or gynecological issues
- Pain after hip replacement surgery
The most common night hip pain causes, like soreness or sleeping on a bad mattress, can be easily resolved. We’ll discuss some of the at-home remedies you can use to relieve this type of pain later in this post. Severe pain, however, may be caused by:
- Sports injuries
- Hip bursitis
These conditions may require more advanced pain management. The following video gives a brief overview of hip pain. We’ll discuss each of these in more detail following treatments.
17 ways to relieve hip pain that is worse at night
Pain isn’t normal. And, pain that interferes substantially with your sleep isn’t sustainable. We rank the 17 best treatments you can try below. From at-home remedies to surgery, these methods have helped patients get the sleep they need.
However, as the Mayo Clinic post on hip pain warns, always talk to your doctor immediately if your pain is accompanied by:
- Any signs of infection, such as chills, fever, redness, or a sudden swelling
- An inability to move or bear weight on the affected leg
- Intense or severe pain
- A joint that appears deformed
These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
1. Change your sleeping position
WikiHow gives a great overview of how to find the right sleeping position to relieve hip pain at night. They also suggest ways you can use pillows as bolsters to reduce stress in your hips or back.
2. Check your mattress
If you’re suffering from hip pain that is worse at night, first check your mattress. As we talked about in our post on mattresses for back pain, the mattress you choose can help to drastically reduce pain.
First, try out another bed to see if that relieves your pain. Next, SleepJunkie.org gives a great overview of how to find the best mattress for hip pain. They also discuss some alternatives to the pain-causing inner springs in most mattresses. They suggest instead memory foam or latex mattresses.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene
Good sleep hygiene means getting into a routine that encourages restful and deep sleep. Hip pain at night can certainly affect your ability to sleep. However, it will be harder for it to do so if you’re already practicing good sleeping habits. These include:
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
- Reducing alcohol use before bed
- Avoiding prolonged use of sleeping pills
- Avoiding computer or television screens for at least two hours before going to sleep
- Keeping your bedroom cool
- Minimizing the clutter and distraction in your bedroom, by making it for sleep only
4. Perform hip stretches before going to bed
Hip stretches are especially important if you’re suffering from hip and lower back pain at night. These could point to tight muscles being the culprit of your pain.
As ManageBackPain.com explains, talk to your doctor about stretches you can try. Or, for more mild cases of hip pain, try the following stretches from Exercise For Injuries. These will work out the tension you’re holding in your hips and can relieve pain before bed.
5. Try icing the area
“Decrease the pain and inflammation by icing the sore or painful area for 15- 20 minutes waiting minimum 30 minutes before reapplying ice. Repeat 2-3 times per day. Icing will decrease the inflammation and will help break the pain cycle that can also contributes self-limiting or guarding of hip movement.”
If your hip pain is caused by overuse injuries during the day, take a few days off to rest the area. If you’re still experiencing pain, particularly sharp or severe pain, talk to a doctor before resuming activity.
7. Change your activities
Night hip pain is often caused by the activities we do during the day. You can help reduce your pain by varying or changing up your activities. This could be enough to relieve your pain completely. Or it could give you the time to work in some hip strengthening exercises to prevent pain later on.
You can modify your activities by:
- Trying out cross-training, like swimming or biking
- Focusing on low-impact activities, especially if you suffer from hip osteoarthritis
- Working on your core with Pilates, specific core strengthening routines, or yoga
8. Perform hip pain stretches before every workout
Our post 10 Common Causes Of Hip Pain From Running shows six hip stretching routines you can try before each workout. It also gives advice on:
- Foam rolling
Other options for more structured hip stretches include yoga and Pilates. These workouts have the double benefit of strengthening your core, too.
If these at-home remedies for your hip pain haven’t helped, talk to your doctor about the following suggestions. Treating your hip pain with non-invasive, small lifestyle changes is always preferred. But if those don’t work, there are treatments that can relieve your pain. Pain isn’t normal and it’s not sustainable if it’s severely affecting the rest your body needs.
9. Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
For acute cases of pain, you could try medications. Medications should only be used on a short-term basis, until a longer-term preventative solution or exercise routine can be done to correct the initial cause of your pain. HealthCentral explains:
“Taking a painkiller or perhaps a muscle relaxants just before you go to sleep may also help you get a better sleep. If you don’t already have a prescription, talk to your doctor about medication that can help manage your pain.”
10. Get into physical therapy
If you’re suffering from hip bursitis, or another overuse injury, physical therapy can really help. As the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons writes:
“Your doctor may prescribe exercises to increase hip strength and flexibility. You may do these exercises on your own, or a physical therapist may teach you how to stretch your hip muscles and use other treatments such as rolling therapy (massage), ice, heat, or ultrasound.”
11. Consider aspiration for hip bursitis
For severe cases of hip bursitis, your doctor may recommend aspirating, or draining, the bursa with a needle. This is typically done in combination with a hip injection.
12. Learn more about hip injections
Hip injections may be performed to both diagnose and treat hip pain. They involve injecting a local anesthetic combined with a steroid directly into the outer regions of the spinal cord. This is where nerves lead to the hip, or in the hip joint itself. This procedure can:
- Help diagnose what specific nerve is leading to your pain
- Focus further treatments
- Inhibit pain signals of hip nerves
- Drain fluid in the hip
Hip injections provide a minimally-invasive and safe treatment option for more moderate to severe cases of hip pain.
13. Talk to your doctor about radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is another procedure that has helped some patients. It disrupts the nerves from sending painful signals. This is done with the use of heat to impair or destroy the nerves that are causing pain.
Again, radiofrequency ablation is minimally-invasive. It’s a safe procedure for many who are suffering from hip pain. Since pain relief isn’t permanent, it’s best done in combination with physical therapy to resolve the underlying cause of your pain. You can watch a radiofrequency ablation procedure in the following video.
14. Try out TENS unit technology
A TENS unit device sends stimulation to your nerves to relieve pain. It does this through placing electrode-containing pads on your skin above those nerves. This treatment is non-invasive and has only mild reported side effects. TENS units work best for patients with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, or pain caused by surgery.
15. Consider spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation works similarly to TENS unit therapy. The device emits a small electrical current to override painful nerve signals.
A spinal cord stimulator, however, is a semi-permanent device. It’s implanted within the area of the spine that is leading to pain. It can provide more targeted, effective pain relief. It also allows patients to control those pain-correcting signals through a hand-held control device.
16. Look into newer, cutting-edge treatments
Beyond these interventional pain management options, look into other more cutting-edge treatments for your pain. Since these are newer, they don’t have the research backing to indicate their effectiveness. But, they may help in cases where other treatments haven’t worked. Your options may include:
17. In extreme cases, talk to your doctor about surgery
Surgeries for extreme and severe hip pain at night may include:
- A bursectomy
- Tendon repair
- Iliotibial band release
- Hip joint replacement
As Jason R. Hull, MD, at Tuckahoe Orthopaedics explains, surgery should be a final option after other therapies have been attempted:
“Aching hip pain at night is often the trigger that drives patients to seriously consider hip replacement. If a person can no longer sleep through pain and function properly the next day, it may be time to consider surgery. The most appropriate candidates for hip replacement, then, are those who have already been adhering to a conservative treatment plan: oral anti-inflammatory drugs, activity modification, non-narcotic pain relievers, physical therapy, cortisone steroid injections, etc.”
What’s causing my pain?
Depending on the cause of your pain, there may be different treatments you try. Here are the most common conditions leading to hip pain at night.
Many people, especially runners, suffer from hip bursitis. Exercise during the day can lead to pain at night. Arthritis-Health explains that the most common symptoms of this condition are:
- Pain that is worse after prolonged inactivity
- Pain that is worse with repetitive activity
- Hip tenderness
- Radiating pain
- Pain at extreme range of motions
- Hip swelling, redness, or warmth
There are two types of hip bursitis: troncharetic and iliopsoas. Troncharetic bursitis feels like an aching or burning sensation on the outside of your hip. With iliopsoas bursitis, you’ll feel a clicking or snapping sensation when your hip flexes. One of our pain doctors discusses this condition and treatments in the following hip bursitis video.
If you’re a woman, over the age of 50, or if you experience your hip pain near the groin or the buttocks, you may have hip osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Foundation explains that this occurs when:
“Cartilage, the spongy tissue that cushions joints, deteriorates, causing bones to rub against each other.”
Learn more about osteoarthritis and treatments for it in our video.
Tendinitis occurs most often when you have started a new exercise routine after a good amount of time off. LiveStrong explains:
“If you are physically active or have begun a new workout routine, you may irritate the tendons which surround the hip bone. As you age, your tendons lose some of their flexibility, and some tendons may not move smoothly no matter your age. All of these situations can result in hip pain experienced at night or when resting. Additional symptoms include swelling in the hip and leg, redness near the hip, and trouble bending.”
You’ll talk to your doctor about treatments that could help you. Some may include rest or physical therapy.
Sciatica is often the culprit for hip and lower back pain at night. It’s caused by inflammation or irritation in the sciatic nerve. This is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from the lumbar spine down to the legs and feet.
You may be suffering from sciatica if you’re experiencing:
- Pain in the lower back where the sciatic nerve attaches
- Numbness along the sciatic nerve, through the back, hips, legs, or feet
- Burning, tingling, or “pins and needles” sensations along the sciatic nerve
- Weakness in the legs
Since sciatica is related to nerve pain in the back, treatments may differ slightly from those discussed below. In addition to physical therapy, steroid injections, or medications, your doctor may also recommend chiropractic care or surgery. The following videos talks about treatments for sciatica.
Pelvic issues, for women
Finally, women who experience pain at night need to rule out gynecological issues. Conditions, like endometriosis, could be causing pain. Stephanie E. Siegrist, MD, on EverydayHealth notes:
“Hip pain in women can have gynecological causes. It’s important not to just assume that the pain is caused by arthritis, bursitis or tendinitis. Depending on your age and other health issues, the pain in your hip could be coming from some other system.”
If you’re experiencing gynecological issues, it’s important to talk to a doctor to rule out serious conditions.
Pain after hip replacement surgery
If you’re suffering from pain after a hip replacement surgery, you’re not alone. According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS): “More than half of patients wake up with pain after joint replacement.”
Multiple factors can cause hip pain immediately following surgery. These include restricted leg movements or the type of anesthesia you were given. Pain that occurs two to three weeks after the surgery is often caused by increased activity, including physical therapy, along with a decreased use of medication. The AAHKS goes on to suggest:
- Nerve blocks for localized pain
- Occasional use of sleeping pills
- Behavioral modifications to deal with this specific type of pain
Find help for your hip pain at night
If you’re suffering, talk to a doctor today. They can get an accurate diagnosis for your pain as well as suggestions for treatment. A specialized pain doctor will work closely with you and your entire healthcare team. They’ll suggest non-invasive therapeutic options as well as more advanced treatments to help you relieve your pain.
Click the button below to find a pain doctor in your area who can help with your hip pain at night.
Learn more about hip pain:
Hip Pain 101: Everything You Need To Know About Causes And Treatments