If you’re experiencing knee pain at night, this is a common symptom, and may be a sign, of osteoarthritis (OA). Activity throughout the day can cause knees with any level of degeneration to tire and inflammation to increase, causing pain at the end of the day. If this pain keeps you from getting quality sleep at night, your body is less able to fight the inflammation and less equipped to deal with the symptoms such as pain or stiffness. This causes a vicious cycle of pain and poor rest which leads to more pain.
How does knee pain affect your sleep?
Studies show that individuals suffering from knee OA are more likely to have their sleep negatively affected:
31% have trouble falling asleep
81% struggle to remain asleep throughout the night
77% report general sleep issues.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California in LA found that those patients who struggled with sleeping through the night had higher levels of the chemicals that contribute to inflammation in the morning, compared to those in the study that were able to get uninterrupted sleep.
Not only can a lack of sleep affect your body’s inflammatory response it also affects your mood and ability to cope. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived your knee pain may feel more intense to you, which can lead to frustration and in many chronic pain patients, potentially depression.
There are some things you can do at home to try to ease this pain for the moment. Resting after activity, icing the knee to reduce inflammation, applying a compression wrap and elevating the knee over your head can all help reduce pain due to OA. You can also take over the counter NSAIDS like Aleve or Ibuprofen. While these things may help you get some more sleep tonight, they do not address the underlying cause of the pain, osteoarthritis. Within the past several years multiple treatments have become available to treat OA and the pain resulting from it.
If your pain at night is coupled with a fever, chills, unintentional weight loss or you’re experiencing additional pain in other locations we recommend you see your primary care physician to make sure the pain in your knee isn’t due to a more serious and life-threatening illness.