Do You Get Hip Pain From Lying On Your Side At Night?
Watch this video to learn how to stop hip pain lying on your side at night so that you can sleep comfortably.
What Causes Hip Pain From Lying On Your Side?
If you get hip pain when sleeping on your side at night, the most likely cause is from irritation of one of the structure that runs over the outside of the hip bone.
The bump on the outside of the hip is called the greater trocheanter.
As you can see from the picture, the greater trochanter is NOT the actual hip joint.
The actual hip joint is located more in your groin.
Ther greater trochraner sticks out more than the rest of the pelvis, particularly if you have a wide pelvis or wide hips.
When you're sleeping on your side at night it puts pin point pressure on the structures that run over top of the greater torchanter.
That in turn cause cause hip pain from lying on your side.
There are several structures that run over the greater trochanter:
- the hip bursa / trochanteric bursa
- your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus tendons
Although there are several different structures that can cause hip pain from lying on your side at night, it doesn't really matter so much which one is causing it because the solution to all of them is going to be the same:
If you're putting too much pressure on your hip, you're going to have hip pain when sleeping on your side.
Therefore, you have to take some pressure off of the structures to help relieve pain on the outside of the hip when sleeping at night.
So how do you do that?
Here are 5 ways to relieve hip pain from lying on your side, which I'll discuss further below:
- Sleep on the non-painful hip
- Use a pillow between your knees
- Use a pillow or towel under your waist
- Products to relieve hip pain from lying on your side
- Prevent hip pain at night from sciatica
How To Relieve Hip Pain From Lying On Side At Night
Sleep On The Non-Painful Hip
The first and easiest way to relieve hip pain when sleeping on your side is just to lie on the other side.
If you avoid putting pressure directly on your hip, most of the time that helps.
However, some people who have more irritable conditions get hip pain even when sleeping on their non-painful hip.
That's because when you sleep with your painful hip on top, if it drape over, it still stretches your gluteus medius and minimus tendons over the greater trochanter.
To prevent this try the next tip.
Use A Pillow Between Your Knees
If you put a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side, that keeps your top knee from draping over and overstretching the gluteal muscles and IT band.
By keeping those structures from getting stretched tightly over the greater trochanter, using a pillow between your knees can help prevent getting pain in your top hip when sleeping at night.
"But what if I can only sleep on my painful side?"
Maybe you can only sleep on the painful side. Perhaps that's the side that you just naturally prefer to sleep on and no matter which position you go to sleep in you're going to end up rolling over on the other side.
Or maybe you toss and turn in bed at night and end up sleeping on both sides at some point throughout the night.
How do you prevent hip pain when sleeping on your painful side?
How To Prevent Hip Pain From Lying On Your Painful Side
This is the position that most people get hip pain in when sleeping.
So that brings us to tip# 3.
Use A Pillow Or Towel Under Your Waist When Sleeping On Your Painful Side
Women tend to have more hip pain when sleeping at night because women have a wider pelvis than men.
If you're pear-shaped or have have wide hips and a narrower waist, it as creates a gap between your pelvis and your ribcage.
As a result, that create a pin-point pressure over the greater trochanter.
Now if you remember from physics class:
pressure = force / area.
So in order to decrease the pressure over your hip when sleeping on your side, there are really only 2 ways to do that:
- Lose weight (decrease force)
- Spread the force over a greater area.
Neither way is a bad idea. If you've got some extra weight to lose, you might try both.
However, the first way takes time and the second one can be done immediately, so I would recommend trying the second one regardless.
If you put a folded towel or a small pillow underneath your waist, you've got the same amount of bodyweight pressing downward. However, instead of all of the pressure being on the greater trochanter, the pressure is distributed over a wider area.
This in turn decrease the pressure on your hip and can relieve hip pain from lying on your side.
How To Prevent Hip Pain If You Toss And Turn At Night
If you toss and turn in bed at night, the you may lose the pillows between your knees and under your waist.
If fact, that's a common objection that I get from patients when I make these recommendations:
"I've tried sleeping with a pillow between my knees but I toss and turn at night, and it falls out."
That's a valid concern.
You can't really control what you do while you're sleeping.
You can have the best intentions and go to sleep in the optimal position, but once you get to sleep, all bets are off.
For a long time, I didn't really know how to respond to that other than just set yourself up in the best position and hope to stay there as long as you can.
However, I had a patient introduce me to a few products that worked for her and I thought they were just ingenious ideas.
I wanted to share them with you as wel in case you have trouble keeping pillows between your knees as well.
Products To Help Hip Pain From Lying On Side
The first product is a pillow that goes underneath your waist called the aopow Lumbar Support Pillow.
It works like the pillow or towel previously mentioned.
However, it's made from memory foam so it's a little more comfortable.
It was actually designed for people who sleep on their back. You're supposed to put it underneath your lower back to give you some lumbar support as shown below.
I don't really love it for that purpose because a lot of people get back pain when lying flat on their back due to having too much curve rather than note enough.
However, I do really like this pillow for sleeping on your side to help fill the gap between your hip and ribcage.
Additionally, the little lips on the side my help keep you from rolling as much at night.
Knee Pillow To Prevent Hip Pain When Sleeping On Side
The next product is the Vertdens Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers
The pillow has little groves for your thighs to lay in.
It pads between your knees and helps keep your thighs spaced just like using a normal pillow.
However, the really ingenious part about this pillow is that it has a little elastic strap that you put around your knee.
That way, when you do toss and turn at night (because it's probably going to happen), you're just going to it comes with you so you're not always losing the pillow.
Now in theory, you could just sew a piece of elastic around a normal pillow, but at the price point it's sold for, it's hardly worth the effort.
I thought those products were great ideas, so I wanted to pass on the information in case you have hip pain when sleeping on your side.
So far in this post, we've mostly talked about pain on the outside of the hip over the greater trochanter.
However, some people who have hip pain when sleeping are referring to pain in the back of the hip.
Back pain and sciatica can cause referred pain in the back of the hip or pain in the butt, so make sure that's not the cause of your hip pain.
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How To Prevent Hip Pain From Sciatica When Sleeping On Side
Watch the video below to learn how to stop hip pain from your lower back when laying on your side:
Can Sciatica Cause Hip Pain When Sleeping At Night?
There are two ways that sciatica can cause hip pain when sleeping at night:
- Pinched nerves in your lower back that refer pain to your hip
- Piriformis syndrome - a compression of the sciatic nerve in the buttock
If the problem is from compression of the sciatic nerve in the buttock, using a pillow between your knees as previously mentioned shoulder help.
If the problem is from your lower back, brining your knees closer toward your chest (fetal position), helps open the spaces in your lower back where the nerve roots exit. By taking pressure off of the nerve roots, you can relieve referred hip pain when sleeping on your side.
Need Some More Help For Hip Pain?
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Like this post? See our other posts on hip pain
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