Why Arthritis Hurts at Night
Osteoarthritis pain is typically worse, but it’s possible to get a case of aching joints and stiffness at night, too. We use our nights to recuperate from busy days by resting up to recharge for the next day, but nighttime arthritis pain can hinder our abilities to fully relax. Arthritis pain can cause sleep problems, and a lack of sleep at night can lead to more severe pain in the future.1 By using the right treatment methods, you can slow the cycle of restless nights and increasing arthritis pain. Read more to learn about what causes arthritis pain at night and what you can do to minimize the pain.
What Causes Arthritis Pain at Night?
Even after getting into your comfortable clothes and turning off the lights, your aching joints can keep you awake and stress you out. As many as 80% of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping, and many people blame their arthritis pain for their restless nights.1 But what exactly causes the pain to feel worse at night? Nighttime arthritis pain can be caused by a number of reasons. One reason is that our joints stay lubricated as we use them, but they are less lubricated at night when we are not moving around as much.2 Joint pain is also more apparent at night because there are less distractions to keep your attention away from the pain.2 Doing work, running errands, or simply staying active during the day keeps you busy, so lying down in a quiet bedroom with fewer distractions may lead you to fixate on the pain more.
Sleep deprivation caused by arthritis pain can affect your arthritis pain and health over time. Studies show that sleep problems may lead to increased inflammation, depression, and disability.1 Sleep deprivation can cause arthritis pain to feel more severe because the central nervous system pathways that regulate pain can be abnormal in people who do not sleep well.1 Because of these possible issues, it’s especially important to treat your nighttime arthritis symptoms so you can have a full night of rest and reduce further pain.
How to Treat Arthritis Pain at Night
Arthritis pain shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your night of relaxation. You can treat the pain and stop it from getting worse by following a few simple steps and modifying your daily routine. Try these steps during the day and at night to help soothe your aching joints.
Find Ways to De-Stress
Arthritis pain can cause stress, especially when you’re trying to sleep. Relaxation can help ease the pain, so find a way to relax in a way that works best for you.3 Try activities like yoga, deep breathing, listening to some relaxing music, reading, or writing down your thoughts to reduce stress. If you find that staying busy and tidying up will help you relax, try cleaning for a few minutes to get rid of any clutter. A messy space might add stress, so cleaning up can help clear your thoughts as well.
Do Some Light Exercise
Exercise is important for people with arthritis.4 If you have arthritis, adding some movement to your day can decrease your pain and stiffness, improve your range of motion and strengthen your muscles.3 Make a habit of exercising regularly during the day, or try to move around for a couple minutes at night. Stick to low impact exercises like water exercise or stationary bike rides and avoid overworking your muscles.3 Even a short daily walk can keep you active and get your muscles moving. As a bonus, exercise can also help with nighttime arthritis pain by helping you get a good night’s sleep.4
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 it’s 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 won’t confine you to one position overnight, as it’s good to be able to move your joints and reduce stiffness.5
Using heating pads on your painful joints can help relieve the pain temporarily.3 Apply heating pads for a few minutes at night or turn on a heated blanket to keep your joints warm while you sleep. You can also take a hot bath to help you relax and soothe your aching joints.
Take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve arthritis pain.3 You can also use topical creams that are designated for treating arthritis pain like Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel. Voltaren is an NSAID that gets absorbed through the skin and actually treats pain rather than masking it. The clinically-proven formula helps relieve pain and reduce stiffness to help you get a good night of sleep. Use the enclosed dosing card to get a good sense of how much gel you need to apply.
Don’t let arthritis pain keep you up at night. With the right treatment methods, you can keep the pain at bay and have a good night of relaxation. To learn more about living with arthritis and understanding pain, visit the Voltaren webpage.
- Sleep and Pain. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/fatigue-sleep/sleep-and-pain Accessed 11/17/2021.
- Why Do I Have Knee Pain at Night? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-do-i-have-knee-pain-at-night/ Accessed 11/17/2021.
- Arthritis pain: Do’s and don’ts. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20046440 Accessed 11/17/2021.
- Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971 Accessed 11/17/2021.
- Position Yourself for a Good Night’s Sleep. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/fatigue-sleep/arthritis-pain-at-night-tips-to-position-yourself Accessed 11/17/2021.
How to Relieve Arthritis Pain
You can take control of symptoms in a few ways: by exercising daily, eating healthy, and using hot or cold packs. Taking these lifestyle tips into consideration can help make life a little easier.
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