Find Ways To Sleep Better
Sleep is important for reducing arthritis pain, so it may help to take extra measures to ensure that you are getting the best possible sleep. Avoid using your electronic devices like phones or computers right before bed and remember to turn off all the lights when its time to sleep. You can also try adjusting your sleep position so you can sleep as comfortably as possible. If you have knee pain at night, use a pillow to help adjust your position. Put a small pillow between your knees if you prefer to sleep on your side or put a pillow under your knees if you prefer to sleep on your back.2 Try to find a sleep position that wont confine you to one position overnight, as its good to be able to move your joints and reduce stiffness.5
Youre Less Distracted At Night
Our minds play a huge role in our perception of pain. During the day, people are typically consumed with everyday activities including work, school, and hobbies. At night time, when these distractions are removed and youre lying in the dark, its easy to concentrate solely on the pain symptoms you may be experiencing.
This acute pain may move to the front of your thoughts, not only making it difficult to ignore but also causing additional stresses that prevent you from sleeping. This creates a vicious cycle of stress, pain, and insomnia that can further worsen your chronic condition.
Get Exercise During The Day
Exercise can feel like the absolute last thing you want to do when youre in the midst of a painful flare but if you can muster the energy to do some type of movement, it may help improve your sleep length and quality. I love to swim and try to do it a few times a week, even if Im hurting, Mark says. I do feel like I sleep better after Ive done my laps. As for it making the exhaustion worse, well, Im tired all the time anyhow so I might as well be tired doing something productive.
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Discuss Your Medication Options With Your Doctor
If youre experiencing painsomnia, consider tracking it with an app like ArthritisPower so you can talk to your doctor about the degree of your symptoms and correlate them with other factors, such as your medication regimen. Having good control of your arthritis with disease-modifying drugs is usually the first step, but other medications that can specifically help manage pain at night may be needed. These could include anti-epilepsy drugs such as Gabapentin, as well as muscle relaxers such as Tizanidine or Flexeril, says Dr. Schiopu.
In addition, its a good idea to review the other meds you take for your arthritis. Side effects like weight gain or higher cortisol levels might be messing with your sleep. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure your regimen isnt contributing to your painsomnia.
If you experience painsomnia, Gibson says to remember sleep issues dont make you a failure sometimes our bodies just dont do what we want them to. Try different approaches, talk with your doctors, and see what helps.
And remember this good advice: Take painsomnia seriously, Gibson says. You need and deserve your sleep and rest!
Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
Tossing and turning at night when unable to sleep may cause a person to notice and fixate on their pain. Good sleep hygiene may help a person fall asleep faster and remain asleep longer. People can try the following:
- going to bed at the same time each night and establishing a bedtime ritual, such as taking a bath, meditating, or doing another calming activity
- avoiding daytime naps
- exercising during the day to ease arthritis symptoms and support better health, but avoiding exercise for 4 hours before bed
- avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, especially in the afternoon and evening
- refraining from drinking alcohol or only drinking it in moderation
- developing strategies for managing daytime stress to prevent negative thoughts from keeping a person awake or triggering joint pain
- eating a balanced meal a few hours before bed and trying a light snack just before bed if nighttime hunger is a problem
- using the bed only for sleeping and sex and not for watching television or doing work
- keeping the bedroom cool and dark, potentially by using blackout curtains
- investing in a comfortable, supportive mattress and quality pillows
- trying different pillow positioning, such as putting a pillow between the knees or under the hips, to ease joint pain
While they are working on improving their sleep hygiene, a person may find it helpful to get back up if they cannot fall asleep. Doing this helps the association between bed and sleep remain strong.
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Ways You Can Sleep Better With Osteoarthritis
Arthritis pain and stiffness that is tolerable during the day may prevent you from getting good sleep at night. This is bad news, because poor sleep can cause pain to be worsecreating a frustrating cycle of pain and poor sleep.
Joint stiffness and discomfort from osteoarthritis can make it difficult to sleep at night. SeeOsteoarthritis Symptoms and Signs
If pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis are keeping you from falling asleep or staying asleep, try following these 9 tips:
External Factors Create Additional Pain At Night
The pain you experience, however, isnt solely in your mind. Additional factors at night can exacerbate the discomfort you may be feeling. For example, research has shown the effect that cold temperatures can have on arthritis and joint pain. The same neural receptors that respond to temperature changes also trigger pain. So its natural for your body to interpret these sensations as additional pain.
Moreover, other things in the atmosphere such as perfumes, dust, and pollen can worsen respiratory conditions and sleep problems such as sleep apnea. Likewise, as you rest, your breathing becomes slower, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. This increase in CO2 levels dilates your blood vessels, making nerve endings more sensitive.
My Daytime Ra Joint Symptoms
Day RA is more manageable for me. During the day, I am so busy with work, social and other commitments, etc., that I can, to some degree but not always, push through the RA “stuff” and keep going.
Beyond that, the fact is that once we get our joints moving and past that horrible morning stiffness phase, we can move around however tentatively for some time. Now, this is all thrown out the window if I am having a nasty flare in which case DAY and NIGHT are really one horrific blended experience. But for purposes of this article, I want to talk about the differences sans an ongoing flare.
When You Should See A Doctor
If your hip pain is regularly keeping you from sleep or waking you up at night, see your doctor.
They may check for tenderness and swelling around your hip. Theyll also assess the range of motion of your hip for signs of arthritis and tendonitis. Reduced motion is a sign of arthritis.
They may also take blood or fluid samples, or order X-rays to rule out various conditions.
Go to an urgent care facility or to an emergency room if your hip pain is caused from an injury.
Also seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:
- a joint that looks deformed
- inability to move your leg or hip
- inability to put weight on the leg with the sore hip
- intense pain or sudden swelling in your hip
You May Need Knee Replacement Surgery
One of the many criteria for knee osteoarthritis surgery is having pain so severe it doesnt let you sleep. Other signs include :
- Nothing can relieve knee pain.
- The symptoms severely affect your daily life.
- Home remedies, physical therapy, and injections dont ease symptoms anymore.
- Your x-rays show signs of severe degeneration.
People that qualify for knee surgery tend to have great outcomes. However, total replacement isnt the only surgical approach available for osteoarthritis patients.
There are several procedures available for knee wear and tear. Your surgeon will recommend the one that best fits your goals, lifestyle, and current health.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, auto-immune condition that damages the joints of our body. And causes swelling in ones joints and the surrounding tissues.
Here is Marys account of her pain and how she deals with it
We all agree that mornings with RA is not easy. Stiffness, pain, and suffering that feels like it lasts forever. I have learned to manage morning pain well. I usually wake up at about five or six to use the restroom. At that time, I take pain medication and I go back to sleep. When I wake up around eight, the edge has been taken off my discomfort. I have coffee and read the New York Times for an hour. And then I am good to go.
She continues that:
Some of us with rheumatoid arthritis experience increased pain at night. When I am in a flare, I have a hard time sleeping. My body feels worn and ragged. Knuckles, wrists, shoulders, feet, ankles, pelvic girdle, spine. And even my elbows. Nighttime pain is different. It feels heavy. It feels overbearing. It feels endless. It just seems too much.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long-term condition, so cannot be cured. It can only be managed. To manage Rheumatoid Arthritis pain worse at night, look to your sleep routine for solutions.
Get into a consistent schedule by trying to go to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day. go to bed earlier and take naps during the day. Keep your bedroom optimal for sleep cool, quiet, and dark.
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How To Relieve Knee Pain At Night
When you finally lay yourself down to sleep after a busy day, the last thing you want to experience is pain that keeps you awake. When knee pain at night sends you tossing and turning, though, there are ways to care for yourself during the day to make it better. Heres your guide to managing and preventing knee pain at night.
Utilize Mental Techniques Like Meditation And Deep Breathing
Since the perception of pain is so much higher at night, it helps to develop techniques like meditation or deep breathing to help lower your perception of pain. These techniques will take your mind off the pain, and relax you enough to help you fall asleep. It can be as simple as the old classic of counting sheep. Or, you can try to picture calm, relaxing places in your mind.
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If You Do Struggle To Sleep
- Dont look at a clock during the night, as this can make you anxious.
- If youre really struggling to sleep, it might be better to get up and do something thats not stimulating, such as listening to soothing music or having a milky drink. Only go back to bed when youre sleepy.
- If theres anything on your mind, write it down on a pad next to your bed and then try to forget about it. Do this with a pen or pencil and paper, and not a phone or electronic device.
- Try not to worry. Many people do suffer with sleepless nights from time to time and its often only temporary.
- If you are regularly waking up in pain, see a relevant healthcare professional, such as your GP, rheumatology consultant, rheumatology nurse or a physiotherapist. There will be things you can do to improve your symptoms, such as changes to your medication, or lifestyle changes, including exercise.
- Talk to your doctor about what time you should take your medication, in case it affects your sleep. For example, taking steroid tablets later in the day can affect the body clock and may disrupt sleep.
For more information and advice about getting a good nights sleep, visit The Sleep Councils website.
Why Is My Pain Worse At Night
Many people who experience chronic pain report worse symptoms at night. Why is that?
Weve all been there at some point. Whether youre suffering from a chronic condition or recovering from an illness or injury, your pain just seems to get worse at night. Nowadays, researchers have nicknamed this condition painsomnia. In fact, its common in people with chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other chronic health conditions.
In some cases, this increased pain may cause additional discomfort, while in others, sufferers are unable to fall or stay asleep because of the pain. Well dive into what makes the pain worse at night and some of the steps you can take to get a better nights sleep.
Other Knee Injuries And Conditions
Because the knee is the largest joint in your body, it is prone to injury and strain. If you fall or bump your knee, you may experience pain from bruising. If youve fractured any of the three bones in your knee, you may experience weakness, sharp pain, or deep throbbing sensations.
Rheumatoid arthritis can present similar symptoms to osteoarthritis, but this autoimmune condition may require different treatments than joint damage caused by the typical wear and tear of aging.
Avoiding Certain Beverages Before Sleep
I also avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before bedtime and alcohol as well since both will make you restless – the last thing we need!
Finding ways to transition from day RA to night RA is not easy but you can discover what works for you and make both your day times and night times a lot more comfortable.
Lack Of Sleep Makes Pain Worse
It can be easy to get stuck in a cycle where you cant sleep because of knee pain. That lack of sleep can actually make your pain worse. Sleep is vital for healing and rejuvenation. Without sleep, you have less energy to expend on healing as you need to focus your bodily processes on staying alert and awake.If nighttime knee pain causes you to toss and turn, you may end up accidentally further straining your knee by sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
Causes Of Throbbing Knee Pain
No single condition causes nighttime knee painthrobbing pains can come from a variety of musculoskeletal illnesses or injuries. As a result, your healthcare provider may consider several potential causes.
Some of the most common sources for nighttime knee pain include runners knee, osteoarthritis, bursitis, or injuries. Some of these conditions, like runners knee, may resolve after you rest your knee. Others, like osteoarthritis, are chronic in nature.
With a proper diagnosis, your healthcare provider can provide you with the treatment you need to rest easier.
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The Start Of A Vicious Cycle
And once you start dealing with a lack of sleep, a vicious cycle can start.
Poor sleep leads to daytime fatigue, which in turns leads to pain amplification, Dr. Schiopu says. When tired, the brain lacks the ability to dampen pain signals, also called anti-nociceptive pathways, so the pain is perceived to be worse. Also, when youre tired during the day youre less likely to feel like exercising, which can help improve arthritis and its symptoms. Not keeping weight in check is also linked with sleep apnea, which causes further sleep problems. Tiredness is also linked to greater depression in arthritis patients, which is again linked to worsening pain.
Its no wonder that painsomnia can seem almost inevitable with arthritis, but there are some steps you can take to make it better:
Create A Relaxing Pre
If meditation isnt your thing, find what works to calm your mind and body. This can be highly individualized process, says CreakyJoints community member Dawn Marie Gibson, who recently coauthored a paper about managing painsomnia that was presented at the 2018 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting in Chicago. Soothing sounds like waves and fireplaces help me relax by taking the focus off my pain. I also enjoy crocheting when I feel up to it.
Dr. Schiopu suggests a boring book to put you to sleep. In addition, Gibson says to eliminate anything that riles you up. Reducing or taking something away may be as helpful as anything being added in, Gibson says. Less caffeine, less news, or less arguing on social media might make it easier to wind down and go to sleep.
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Why Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Hurt More At Night
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be chronic, or may come and go. The more flares you have, the greater risk of developing joint damage which then may end with disability. Interestingly, some sufferers find that the disease hurt more at night, why?
The periodicity of RA symptoms may vary
Experts are generally interested in the pattern of how the RA symptoms come and go. This may provide a helpful clue to control the disease better.
But there is no single pattern. The periodicity of RA symptoms varies from patient to patient. But many times, the inflammatory arthritis such as RA is more likely to get worse in the morning and late in the evening.
The pain and other discomfort symptoms may interrupt the sleep cycle of patients. If you have this inflammatory arthritis, frequently, you may be woken up by night pain in the affected joint.
And while RA can cause sleep deprivation and affect the quality of your sleep, the disease can get worse when your body dont get adequate sleep. For instance, poor sleep can lead to stress and worsen fatigue which then can worsen other symptoms, creating vicious cycle!
Low cortisone at night may be one of the answers
Cortisone is actually one of major hormones made and released by the adrenal glands. In general, the body needs this hormone to help respond and soothe stress.
The level of physical activity may have an effect, too!