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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brandon

Why do I get Hip Pain at Night and What to do about it

person grabbing hip in pain

Very few things can rob you of a good night’s sleep quite like hip pain. It leaves you tossing and turning just trying to find a place that’s comfortable. Often many just can’t find a comfortable position to sleep and give up leaving them exhausted and in more pain the next day. So, what is happening with this painful condition and more importantly, what can you do about it?

First, a word of caution, if you’ve been having pain at night that nothing helps with along with unexplained change in your weight, this is something that you need to see your primary care physician right away. The same goes if you are dealing with a new onset of not being able to start or stop going to the bathroom or if you are dealing with increasing clumsiness to your legs and numbness to your genitals. Both of these conditions are more urgent and this article is not for those conditions.

Why do I get hip pain at night?

Hip pain at night can happen for any number of reasons but there are a couple of main reasons that are most likely at the root of your hip pain at night. For many, where they feel the pain isn’t actually the source of their pain. Why? First we need to understand why things hurt.

Everybody has been given a world class alarm system called your nervous system. When an injury happens it often triggers the alarm system through our danger detectors prompting you to pay attention to the area(like if you stepped on a nail). Now, the alarm system doesn’t tell you exactly what happened, it just alerts the rest of your body to potential danger and leaves it up to you to figure out what to do with it. This alarm system has several things that can make it more sensitive or alert. Each danger detector has sensors for pressure, temperature change, blood flow, immune system, and stress. Any one of those can make your alarm system more sensitive and easier to set off even if there is no new injury(just think of the last time you had the flu and all your old aches and pains flared). In addition, lack of sleep itself can be worth 2 points of pain on the pain scale(because it makes your alarm system more sensitive).

In the case of hip pain at night, two of those sensors are more involved than the others. But why?

For many, hip pain at night is caused by issues coming from the low back. It may be already diagnosed back pain, stiffness to the back, strain to the muscles, or overworking of the hip muscles(specifically the glutes). Often, in order to protect you, your nervous system tells those muscles to tighten and stiffen(these tight stiff spots on the muscle are called Trigger Points). This triggers a cycle of tightening and then sensitivity which leads to more tightening and then more sensitivity. This then makes the back and sides of your hips more sensitive to pressure because they’re already tight. Depending on the provider you go see, these can be given names like trochanteric bursitis, gluteal bursitis, IT Band syndrome, or SI joint dysfunction. But often at the root of all these problems is the low back. This is especially true if you’ve been given an injection for bursitis or to your SI joint with no relief.

How to know if your hip pain is coming from your back?

Is it worse after sitting? Does it get better when you get up but eventually gets worse after walking? Are there some days that are worse than others? These are all signs that the pain may be coming from your back.

How to ease hip pain.

Here are three things you can start doing to ease hip pain at night (or anytime for that matter).

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions above, start with lying on your stomach(if this is too uncomfortable, start with a pillow under your stomach) while breathing deeply(think a yoga type of breath-inhale for 4 seconds and slowly exhale for 8 seconds or whatever you can do). After about 2-3 minutes remove the pillow or slowly prop up on your elbows and hold for about 30 seconds. Try this several times during the day. If this eases your hips, then your back may be at the root of it.

Next, watch the video to learn how you can use a foam roller to ease tight tender hips. What's more, it doesn't have to hurt.

Once you're done foam rolling-try these 3 gentle stretches.

Confused about where to start? Book a call from the comfort of your home or office and  on your schedule with one of our Hip Pain Specialists. You can schedule your call here.  Need help now? Come by and talk with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy at no charge. We offer FREE consultations, which give you the opportunity to come in and meet us and see for yourself how we can help you.

Here are just a few of the things you will learn in one of our free consultation:

  • What is the underlying cause of your pain? (hopefully nothing too serious!)

  • Roughly, how long will it take to fix the problem?

  • What to do to help – which doesn’t include painkillers, resting or surgery etc.

  • What other, natural, drug free methods are there to speed up recovery alongside treatment?

Our consultations are great for anyone that may be “unsure” if physio is right for them, and they give you the opportunity to ask questions and see for yourself if we can help you.

If you’d like one of our limited free consultation sessions, please click here to schedule your free consultation or CALL us on 850-765-2779 to make a no-obligation enquiry.

About the Author

dr brandon

Dr. Brandon is the owner and a Physio at Body Mechanix Physiotherapy and Fitness. Four of his favorite people call him daddy while he's been married to his other favorite person for 20 years. He enjoys teaching martial arts and is a Mestrando in Capoeira while in the mornings, he can be found working out with the guys in F3 around town. He's the author of 4 pain relief guides for sciatica, low back, shoulder, and knees and the lead contributor to the Active Tallahassee Blog.

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