How to Sleep with Hip Pain
Hip injuries can be torture at night. When not in pain, you’re probably tossing and turning in a failed attempt to find a comfortable position. There is hope, however. To sleep better on an injured or painful hip, you’ll not only need to find the right position and mattress but also develop a healthy sleep routine, relieve pain safely, and manage your condition going forward.
Finding the Right Position
Favor your side.It’s quite normal to toss and turn in the quest to find a comfortable position in bed. Some doctors recommend favoring your side if you have a painful hip. Obviously, make sure to avoid the bad side.
- Draw your knees up toward your body.
- Place a pillow between your legs, too, if you’re sleeping on your side. This will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine better aligned.
- If you don’t see any difference in your pain right away, don’t give up. You may need to experiment with the height of the pillow to find the best height for your hips.
Lean back on a pillow or blanket.While the best position is on your side with legs bent in and a pillow for support, you can tweak this position slightly if it makes your hip pain worse. Just take a pillow and place it under the small of your back and then, remaining on your side, lean back on the pillow. This will relieve the pressure from your hips.
- This position can be useful for pregnant women, who tend to develop hip pain in the third trimester as connective tissue relaxes and stretches to prepare for birth. They can also use a pillow to support their abdomen.
- A rolled up a blanket will support the small of your back, as well.
Alternate by sleeping on your back.Some studies suggest that always sleeping on the same side can, over time, lead to muscle imbalance and pain. Switch things up by rolling all the way onto your back. Sleeping on your back is actually the healthiest position, as it distributes your weight evenly and reduces pressure points.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this position can be very stressful on the neck.
- Use a pillow to support your neck when sleeping on your back.
- Also, consider putting a pillow under your thighs to better support your hips in this position.
Place a pad under the joint.Use extra bedding if you simply can’t avoid rolling onto your bad hip. Try a thin pillow or even an extra blanket to give the joint protection while you sleep, and to relieve pressure on it.
- Place the blanket or pad under your bad hip while on your back.
- You might also try wearing thick pajamas or sweatpants to bed, or, in a pinch, wrapping a bandage around your waist.
Getting More Comfortable
Pick a firm mattress.A good mattress is your foundation. It will align your body and give you support where you need it most – in this case, the hips. Talk with your doctor or orthopedic specialist about what kind of mattress will give you the best support and sleep.
- In general, you’ll need more support from your mattress. A firm mattress should provide this better than a softer kind, but make sure that it’s not too hard.
- Add a foam pad to the top of the mattress, too, to increase support and distribute your weight more evenly.
- Avoid mattresses with internal metal springs. These inner springs create pressure points, especially for side-sleepers and for joints like the hip. Instead, try a memory foam mattress, which will more even distribute your body weight.
Maintain a good sleep schedule.Losing sleep with hip pain is no fun. You’ll be better off if you make the most of the sleep you do get, though. Practice good sleep hygiene. Get into a healthy sleep schedule and maximize your rest, aiming for ideally 7 to 9 hours per night.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This rhythm is key. In fact, try to maintain your normal wakeup time even if you have a late night or sleep poorly.
- Create a restful bedroom environment. Make sure your bed is comfortable and that the room is quiet, cool, and dark.
- Relax in the evening. Starting a few hours before your bed time, start to unwind. Take a warm shower, for example, lower the lights, read a book, or play light or ambient music.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Also, turn off electronic devices – backlit screens can actually disrupt your sleep patterns.
Avoid sleep aids.A few days in a row of pained and disrupted sleep can be stressful as well as tiring. You might even consider a sleep aid. Resist the temptation to get to sleep artificially, however, as pills and other sleep aids can have bad side effects.
- Avoid drinking alcohol as a sleep aid, for one. Alcohol may help you fall asleep more quickly, but it disrupts your body’s normal sleep patterns and can make you feel groggy and fatigued in the morning.
- Minimize your use of over-the-counter sleep aids, too. Many are habit-forming, meaning you’ll need a higher dosage over time and can have trouble falling asleep without them in the future. Some also cause you to feel groggy and foggy-headed when you wake up.
- Only take sleep aids for short periods. When using them, always give yourself time for a full night’s sleep.
Ice your hip before going to bed.Sometimes, hip pain can be caused by an increase in swelling of the bursa, which is the fluid-filled sac that cushions your joints. If you have been diagnosed with any sort of inflammatory condition, you may want to place an ice pack on your hip for 20 minutes before going to bed.
- Make sure that you wrap the ice pack with a paper towel or other thin cloth. Do not place the ice pack directly on your skin or you will be at risk of frostbite.
- Make sure to give your skin a break every 20 minutes as well and allow it to return to its normal temperature before using the ice pack again.
Managing Hip Pain
Do regular low-impact exercise.When a joint hurts, we want to use it as little as we can to minimize pain and discomfort. In fact, you probably need to keep using your hip. Inactivity with a condition like arthritis can reduce the joint’s range of motion, increase stiffness, and aggravate pain. Plus, the exercise should help you to sleep.
- Have your doctor confirm that it’s safe to exercise your hip, first of all.
- Try motion exercises, gently moving your hip through its full range. Walking, low-speed bicycling, and swimming can also be helpful.
- Try to exercise most days, aiming for a total of about 150 minutes per week. Split up the exercise into 10 minute spurts if movement is uncomfortable.
- An important effect of exercise is that it can help you to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, both of which will ease pressure and stress on your hips.
Get a massage.Sometimes, hip pain can be caused by sore and tight muscles around the hip joint. Having a couple of sessions with a massage therapist may help to relieve this tension.Start off with 30 minute massage sessions to start getting some relief.
- Keep in mind that it may take three to five sessions to feel a difference.
- If your hip pain increases at night after getting a massage, make sure that you tell your therapist at the next visit.
Rest and relieve pain.The idea of exercise is to gently work the hip – don’t overdo it or engage in exercise that’s hard on the joint. Rest the joint when not doing low impact exercises. You can also manage pain by taking over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications.
- Avoid repeated bending of the hip or putting direct pressure on the joint. Try not to sleep on your bad side, as said, and also avoid prolonged sitting.
- Ice the joint with wrapped ice cubes or a package of frozen vegetables if it becomes inflamed or painful. Or, alternatively, you can use a heat treatment like taking a warm shower.
- Consider an over-the-counter medication like Ibuprofen, which will relieve pain but also has properties to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Talk to a doctor about long-term pain relief.You hip pain might be passing. However, it might be a chronic condition caused by osteoarthritis or another medical problem. Talk to your doctor about pain solutions if the problem is chronic. She’ll be able to advise you on a course of action depending on the condition.
- Ask about injections. Your doctor may be able to give you a steroid or cortisone injection to temporarily reduce joint inflammation and pain.
- Consider physical therapy. Ask your doctor about therapy programs that can help strengthen the hip joint, increase flexibility, and maintain its range of motion.
- You might also be a candidate for arthroscopic surgery. This is a non-invasive procedure that allows surgeons to explore your joint for problems and to repair damaged cartilage.
I am having a hip replacement in 8 weeks but the pain is very bad. I cannot take tablets for it. Could you tell me the best way to sleep?
What is wrong if my hip is in severe pain after a fusion?
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