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Best Way To Sleep With Hip Pain

by Lyndon Langley
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Best Way To Sleep With Hip Pain

Best Way To Sleep With Hip Pain

Hip pain in older adults is often caused by osteoarthritis, but it can be triggered by other factors as well. The condition affects nearly 25 million people in the United States. When the joint cartilage wears down over time, bones rub together causing inflammation, swelling and pain. While there are treatments for pain from arthritis, these don’t always work. One reason why hip replacement surgery isn’t common is because most people have lost so much cartilage they can’t move around without pain.
Other causes of hip pain include obesity, muscle imbalance, poor circulation, leg length discrepancy (when one leg is longer than the other), and tight muscles. If you suffer from any of those conditions, you should see an orthopedic surgeon who will evaluate your mobility and recommend treatment. However, even with proper diagnosis, hip pain can still be difficult to treat. A recent study showed that more than half of patients with hip pain didn’t get relief after six months of physical therapy. Some ended up having surgery, while others continued suffering [sources: Lipski et al.; Centers for Disease Control].
One reason why hip pain may be tough to relieve is because of how the joints in our hips function. Unlike other areas of our bodies, such as elbows and shoulders, we don’t move them independently of each other. Instead, the ball-and-socket configuration allows both parts of our hips to rotate, flex and extend. This movement helps us stand upright and walk. It also prevents wear and tear on the joints. But when something stops this motion — like a stiff muscle or worn-out cartilage — it can result in hip pain.
The best way to avoid hip pain during the night is to make sure your bed has enough support. You want the mattress to be firm enough to prevent your body from sinking into it, yet comfortable enough not to give you another place to lay your aching hips. For some people, finding the right balance comes easier than others. If you’ve tried all kinds of mattresses and nothing seems to help alleviate your hip pain, consider talking to an expert about what else might do the trick.
To find out how the type of bed matters, read on.
Sleep Position Matters, Especially at Night
Your hip position when you sleep at night makes a big difference in whether you’ll wake up with aches. There are four main positions: prone (lying face down on the bed), supine (lying face up on the bed), lateral decubitus (lying on your side on the bed) and sitting (sitting cross-legged on the floor). As you lie on your back, you force your spine to round forwardly. Your pelvis tilts upward, which puts uneven stress on your lower back. In addition, lying flat on your back encourages fluid circulation away from your legs and feet, making them less healthy.
You should try to sleep on your side, especially if you sleep only on your back. Sleeping on your stomach, however, requires you to bend your waist and tilt your torso toward your chest. This can create compression on your low back and abdomen, decreasing blood flow. Also, while sleeping on your side is better for fluid circulation, lying on your back is more natural since it’s how we normally fall asleep.
If you have a habit of curling in on yourself, you need to change this behavior. Curled up means putting undue strain on your back, neck and shoulder muscles. These muscles must pull your head and limbs in toward your chest to keep your spine straight. If you curl in, your head and arms will end up pressing against your chest wall, compressing your lungs and heart. If you toss and turn frequently, you may develop herniated disks in your lower back.
So how does the type of bed affect hip pain? Read on.
Sleeping Positions Affect Hip Pain
When trying different sleeping positions, pay attention to your hip pain. If you experience discomfort, stay away from that position until you figure out what works best. Here are the effects of each position:
Prone: This position may feel good initially, but your hip may sink into the mattress, resulting in painful pressure points. Prolonged use can cause low back injuries and herniation discs, and sleeping this way increases the risk of falling.
Supine: Sleeping on your back can increase compression of the abdominal organs and decrease spinal flexibility. Back injury, constipation, hemorrhoids and varicose veins can occur.
Lateral decubitus: Sleeping on your side may reduce compression of your lower back, but it can aggravate scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and kidney problems. Side sleeping also forces your hip to roll outwardly, possibly leading to sciatica.
Sitting: Sitting cross-legged can improve circulation. It can also stretch ligaments and tendons. Low-back issues, varicose veins and hemorrhoids can worsen, though.
While sleeping in the prone position does seem more comfortable than the other three options, remember that it hurts your back. So if you notice your hips going inward, try switching sides or getting up and moving around for awhile. If you sleep on your side and wake up with pain, you may have developed a sacroiliac separation. This occurs when two small bones at either end of your sacrum fuse together. The result is chronic pain in the lower back and butt area. Getting up and walking around can sometimes fix this problem. Otherwise, your doctor may prescribe medication or injections.

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