How Do I Treat Pain In Legs And Hips When I Sleep?


Asked by Kathy

How Do I Treat Pain In Legs And Hips When I Sleep?

I have RA and a herniated disc in my spine. When I lie in one position for a while, I wake with pain in my hip, thigh and knee. I sleep on my side and the pain always occurs in the leg on the OPPOSITE side I'm lying on. If I turn over onto the "painful leg" side, the pain will lessen, but it returns in the opposite leg. Why is this happening?


When you have problems in your joints or your spine, it often manifests in the legs, particularly when lying in the same position for a long time. Lying on your side can also put strain on your hip as gravity pulls down the top leg, similar to crossing your legs when you're sitting. This pulls on the hip joint, tendons, and can put the knee in an awkward position. The subsequent strain can cause pain.

You may want to try supporting your legs with pillows or place a pillow between your knees when you're lying on your side. This prevents the moving down towards the mattress and can give your joints to support they need.

If you're lying on your back, putting a very flat pillow or a folded towel under your knee can ease the pain. However, be careful of using this too much. Having your knee slightly bent over night can in the long term lead to contractors, that is the knee joint not being able to stretch flat.

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. As well, you may want to look into finding a good mattress. Memory foam mattresses and mattress pads can especially help protect and support your body while you are in bed, doing wonders for your quality of sleep. Please be aware that some memory foam is derived from latex. If you have a latex allergy, make sure you get one that is latex-free.

I'd recommend that you speak to your doctor about this problem. They may want to do some tests, such as x-rays, and may have some tips for managing your pain at night. You may also want to ask for a referral to a physical therapist. In addition to being able to give you some exercises that may help your joints, a physical therapist will be able to give you tips on how to support your body when you sleep.

Answered by Lene Andersen, MSW