Knee pain is something that can easily ruin your night. Knee pain can immobilize you, preventing you from doing the things you need to do during the day. At night, it can make sleep difficult and cause you to writhe around in pain for hours.
The physiology of the knees
The knees are a complex and essential part of our bodies, bearing a majority of the weight of our bodies while maintaining mobility, four bones are connected at the knees, the calves’ tibia and fibula, the femur, or thighbone, and the patella or kneecap. They also connect two major muscle groups involved in movement: the quadriceps in front, and the hamstrings in the back.
All these are connected by tendons, such as the ever-famed ACL or anterior cruciate ligament, and the PCL or the posterior cruciate ligament. The ACL is on the front of the knee and prevents the femur from moving backwards onto the tibia, and the PCL is located on the back and keeps the femur nestled in its proper place.
There are also medial ligaments which stabilize the inside of the knee, and the lateral ligaments that stabilize the outside.
More articular cartilage connects the system together, allowing for safe movement as the joints and muscles glide together. Inside the joint or the place where bone meets bone in the knees are bursa, which are fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions to prevent bone from rubbing against bone, which can be painful.
If any single one of these is worn down or injured, it can cause a cascade of injuries, and result in different kinds of pain, depending on the severity of the wear and tear or injury.
What symptoms should I watch out for?
Knee pain at night can be a regular occurrence for some people, especially people of a certain age. It might mean nothing but exhaustion, or it might mean something a little more serious.
There are different types of pain for different types of issues, and the area around the knees may exhibit other symptoms. After an injury or surgery, it is normal to feel a little pain in the evening, but should other symptoms occur, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Here are some of the minor symptoms:
- Unusual or significant swelling
- High levels of pain
- Warmth in the join
- Tenderness to the touch
Severe symptoms prompting emergency care include:
- Deformed appearance of the knee
- Inability to bear weight because of pain
- A popping sound in the knee
- Sudden and swift swelling
In chronic cases, it is best to consult your doctor about your knee pains.
What are home solutions to knee pain at night?
The underlying problems that cause knee pain can be small issues accruing their toll over a long period of time. As such, it might be good to do some of these home remedies to ease your knee pain at night:
- Check your mattress. A mattress should be firm enough to provide support for your whole body. Too soft and saggy, a mattress can cause any number of physical problems outside your knees too. As a good rule of thumb, replace your mattress every 8-10 years.
- Use pillows. When sleeping on your side, put pillows between your knees for extra support. This relieves pressure on your knees.
- Stretch before bed. Your muscles might be a little tight and therefore could use a little stretching. Restorative yoga that focuses on the knees before bed could relieve a lot of the pain you feel at night.
- Hot or cold packs. Applying a hot or cold compress to your knees before you sleep could help to clear any blocked up fluids and reduce inflammation, which may be the cause of pain.
There are many possible reasons why you are experiencing knee pain at night. While they could be solved by a few solutions at home, at the end of the day, it is still better advised to consult your doctor about any underlying conditions that may be causing it.
A trip to your local physical therapist about your condition could also be in order. Anytime Physio is based in Brisbane, and we have expert physical therapists that can deal with your nightly knee pain. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help!