Knee pain at night can affect people with various forms of arthritis or be caused by issues with nerves in the leg. The pain in your knees can be mild, dull aches that keep you awake at night. Or, you could have severe throbbing knee pain that causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Nighttime chronic knee pain can mean that you don’t sleep well and it can make you tired and irritable the next day. Not getting enough sleep because of sharp pains in your knee can also have a knock-on effect on your knee pain. When you are well rested, your body deals with pain better.
There are some effective knee pain remedies that can help deal with pain in the legs at night. A warm compress or hot water bottle can help to relieve sharp knee pain by increasing circulation. Also, some remedies that include turmeric have pain-relieving properties and can help manage arthritis pain in your knees and joints.
So, what can you do if knee pain at night is keeping you awake and you can’t get to sleep? In this article, you can find out what it means if one or both your knees hurt during the night. I will also discuss some ways that can help to get relief from knee pain discomfort.
Why Knees Can Ache at Night
It’s not unusual for joint pain to get worse at night, and that includes your knees. According to Dr. Michael Schaefer, a specialist in musculoskeletal medicine and rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic, walking and moving helps to lubricate joints during the daytime. Knees can then start to ache at night because joints tend to swell when you stop moving.
Dr. Schaefer points to another reason why you can get knee pain at night. Your sleeping position and body alignment can often cause pain in your knees, hips, and shoulders during the night. This is one reason why knee pain can get worse while you are sleeping.
Common Causes of Knee Pain at Night
Let’s look in more detail at some of the common causes of knee pain while sleeping.
Osteoarthritis can cause sharp stabbing knee pains at night when you are resting in bed. The frequency and intensity of the night knee pain depend greatly on the extent of the osteoarthritis.
Researchers in the HSS Journal reported that there are a number of mechanisms that can contribute to nighttime knee pain. For example, minor injuries in the knee joint, damage to nerve fibers, or inflammation due to tissue damage could all be to blame for throbbing knee pain at night. Osteoarthritis suffers describe nighttime knee pain as anything from mild, dull aching to intense jabbing knee pain.
The journal Arthritis Care & Research published a study on the frequency of night pain in hip and knee osteoarthritis. It was found that just over 81% of osteoarthritis patients experience some type of night pain. The joint pain in the knees and hips was described as intermittent and variable. Most suffered night knee and hip pain regardless of the disease progression. However, the knee pain became more severe as the disease progressed.
The Mayo Clinic says that other symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Tenderness in affected joints that are sore to touch
- Stiff joints and lack of free movement
- Joint inflammation
- Loss of flexibility and difficulty moving joints without pain
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can cause pain in the knees and other joints at night.
A report published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease found that many people with rheumatoid arthritis also suffer from nighttime joint pain. From the survey, nearly 30% of patients reported sleep disturbances due to pain in their joints. It was also found that joints tended to swell more during the night and become tender.
If you suffer from arthritis, it’s also important to pay attention to your nutrition, and you can find more information about it in my article “Arthritis – Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid“.
Gout is another arthritic and inflammatory condition that can cause severe throbbing knee pain at night. Although gout commonly affects the big toe, it can affect any joint in the body.
According to Dr. Nayana Ambardekar on WebMD, gout can attack the knees, ankles, elbows, and hands. The pain caused by gout can be excruciating and come on suddenly. In time, joints can become stiff and suffer from restricted movement.
Research carried out by Dr. Hyon Choi from Harvard Medical School discovered that gout causes worse pain during the night. Around half of painful gout attacks happened between midnight and 8 a.m. Researchers concluded that knowing that gout cause pain in nighttime pain in knees and other joints can help to take preventative measures against the pain.
Other symptoms of gout include:
- Swelling and redness in the affected joint
- Extreme tenderness in the joint making it very painful to touch
- Chills and fever in extreme cases
Can fibromyalgia cause knee pain that wakes you up during the night? Dr. Joseph Biundo from the Tulane Medical Center says that fibromyalgia can cause painful symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis. This can cause pain in joints and/or muscles.
- Widespread pain that can feel like aching, a burning sensation, or sharp stabbing pains
- Stiffness in joints
- Extreme fatigue and general lack of energy
- Frequent headaches
- Poor sleep patterns
- Irritable bowel syndrome
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