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Hip pain in middle of the night; dull ache that wakes me up. What could it be?

By Anonymous April 28, 2009 - 1:11pm
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I am in my mid-30s, and have recently been having pain in my hips in the middle of the night. It reminds me of the RLS (restless leg syndrome) commercials, although I do not have any of these symptoms (no needle-sensation, no crawling-sensation). It is a dull ache, and I try to move my hips and legs around to get rid of the pain (it feels like it is deep inside, not a muscle or bone), but moving it seems to irritate it a little more. It is actually not on my hip bone, but closer to the middle of my "gluteus maximus" on each side. It's been happening the past few weeks, always around 2am or 3am and wakes me up.

I've been taking some ibuprofen, and eventually falling back asleep, but would rather not have to keep taking medication.

When I was pregnant with my child 3 years ago, I had a real problem with my sciatic (spelling?) nerve in my hips. Feels similar, but not the same.

Any suggestions?

Add a Comment225 Comments

Thank you for this helpful information! I agree that any type of gentle stretching can really provide some relief, and "stretching" may receive a better response from a young man than my recommendation of "yoga"!

Lastly, before increasing B12 (even if saw on TV; just because it worked for someone else does not mean it is safe for "everyone", and different individuals may need different doses or additional nutrients to help with absorption), please talk with your doctor before adding any additional supplements (if it is potent enough to help, it can also be potent enough to cause harm).

Let us know what the doctor ways about increasing B12, or if he has any deficiencies in his diet. Also, if he alters his sleeping environment, tries different stretching techniques...even buys new shoes that provide more support for his standing all day...these would all be helpful to hear if they helped or not!

best of luck!

January 24, 2010 - 8:52am
EmpowHER Guest

I have identical symptoms. Deep hip pain (mine on one side) and pain as well in my calf that comes on in the middle of the night. I've tried everything: deep muscle massage, chiropractic, etc., and they only offer temporary results. I have, however, found one stretching exercise that works well. I do it either before I go to bed or in the middle of the night if I'm restless and can't sleep. Lie on your back with your butt flush against a wall. It will take some wiggling to get there. Raise your legs straight up against the wall with knees straight, and let the pressure of the wall help to stretch your calves. Stay in that position as long as you can stand it. It's not painful, but it is uncomfortable. After 5-7 minutes you will feel your hips drop, your spine straighten, and your calves will begin to loosen. Stay in that position as long as you can stand it, then go back to bed. Pain is gone. Another trick, while in bed, is to take a big pinch of the outside of either leg on the calf about 4 inches below the knee and simply hold it, pressing tightly for about 5 minutes. Voila. The pain resolves and you can go back to sleep. Good luck. Hope these help.

January 24, 2010 - 8:17am

Allison - wow! ok, yes, he still lives at home while in college. and the oddest thing is I never thought about it being his bed, or his sleeping position, he has always slept like that. but, now that he works on his feet, maybe thats the aggravating factor. I think thats why we went to insoles in his shoes, thinking that was the factor.However, it doesn't happen only when he works - there just doesn't seem to be one factor we can attach as to why it happens. And thinking about it, he probably has had this for a couple of years. He doesn't complain all the time, so I don't think about it as being old. I don't think I could get him to acupuncture - but I will suggest he change his sleeping position and maybe use the pillow between his legs. I know how hard it is to change your position though! And chiro had no affect, so I don't think I could get him back there either. I saw on dr. oz that b12 helps with healing muscles - so I may have him try that again. It can't hurt!

thanks for all your help! I'll try to get him to switch sleeping positions and see what happens.


January 18, 2010 - 7:11am


thanks for the reply. He too gets it only at night - usually after sleeping for a couple of hours. he sleeps on his stomach with a very flat pillow. He has taken tylenol before, sometimes it helps, others it doesn't, though I'd rather find the cause then mask it. Not sure I can get him to do yoga!! we even tried getting off the 'diet' soda and green tea because the chemicals in diet affect some. no change.
thanks again! I'm glad to see we are not alone in this problem!

January 17, 2010 - 3:08pm
(reply to debava)

Everything I have found on hip pain to this point leads me to the same conclusions that I am sure you, your son and your son's doctor have already discussed.
- Since he has "only" had this for a few months, and happens after sleeping a few hours, could it be as simple as him needing "realignment" during his sleep with a different pillow and/or mattress (or, mattress pad)?
- Many people feel excess stress in their shoulders, neck, back..and yes...even their hip. I have read numerous success stories that say the patient received relaxation therapy and stress management, and have felt great relief in their hip. They have achieved this with acupuncture, yoga (sorry...the yoga thing again!), mindful meditation, and other avenues. Even changing simple routines before bedtime could provide relief, as if he is stressed/tense before going to bed at night, this could contribute to poor sleeping.
- Other people have seen a physical therapist if they feel it is more muscular; a chiropractor can help "adjust" not only bones and ligaments, but the overall body
- Arthritis is a common cause for hip pain, usually seen in older patients, but it not out of the question for younger people as well.
- Overuse injury is the last possible scenario that I can come up with at this point, as it can take the body 6 months to fully heal. An "injury" does not have to be something traumatic, but just aggravating enough that he can not seem to get relief from the pulled muscle, tendon, ligament, etc. An overuse injury could also include a small fracture, but you mentioned his Xrays came out normal.

How do you feel about this information...anything new? Would your son be open to seeing an acupuncturist, chiropractor or other "CAM" (complementary and alternative medicine) practitioner?

Is his only trigger for hip pain sleeping for a few hours? Does he have any other triggers to the pain? If not, I would suggest altering the sleeping environment (including his routine before, during and after) to see if that provides relief. Something as simple as changing a pillow, adding a pillow between the knees to promote better sleeping posture, relaxation before bedtime, etc, could help.

Since he is 21, I'm not sure if he is living at home, in an apartment or other? I could also imagine that he may want to look at what he is doing that is repetitive..possibly before bedtime..that he may think is hip pain due to sleep, but is actually something he is doing before hand (sitting in one position at school/work/computer right before he sleeps/naps, for instance).

Does he experience any other joint, muscular or other pain? I am not sure if any dietary changes would help with pain that is specifically in one part of the body, and has only been occurring for a few months, but a Registered Dietitian is not out of the question, either, as possible health care professionals to talk with.

Lastly, there are a few common complaints with hip pain that include:
- IT band (iliotibial band) pain
- Sciatic nerve pain/inflammation

Has your doctor mentioned either of these (they have distinct symptoms and characteristics, so I assume these have already been ruled out).

Please let me know if any of these suggestions help, and we can continue finding possible solutions.

January 17, 2010 - 7:51pm

Hi, I'm writing for my son. He is nearly 21 and has been suffering from hip pain for several months. He describes it like "if you are stretching a muscle, and get to the max point, stretch a little more then hold it". the pain is in both sides. We have been to a chiro and had xrays, hips are fine. we've put insoles in his shoes, and bought a better chair. He does sit at a computer a lot, but he will stretch and work out. we've added calcium and potassium to his diet, along with a one a day. He does drink soda, but his fluid intake is like 3 -4 glasses of water, 1 - 2 soda, 1 milk, and 1 green tea. His diet is relatively healthy, and he is not overweight. I'm open to any suggestions? electrolytes?? B12?? I appreciate any help - we don't know what to do.

January 17, 2010 - 1:45pm
(reply to debava)

Hi deb,

Thanks for providing detailed information; let us do some research and we will see what information we can find for you as possible suggestions.

I do have one suggestion, as I am in my mid-30s with hip pain (albeit, I am pregnant), but I have been suffering from daily hip pain that I can only find relief from with Tylenol. HOWEVER...I am not sure what your son's response to this would be, but the only time I find relief without pain relievers is from yoga. You did mention that your son stretches and works out, but yoga offers gentle stretching, focusing on breath and relaxation...a combination that he may not be currently using. I am not "big" into yoga, but have found it to be immensely, and surprisingly, beneficial to completely relieving my pain for 24-48 hours after a one-hour class (taught by very qualified instructors; this is important). It seems that the deep breathing within a calm, relaxing atmosphere while gently stretching is the key.

Just one suggestion from a personal standpoint. I will see what the medical literature says and get back to you soon!

January 17, 2010 - 2:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am nearly 49 and My pain shifts from hip to hip sometimes... and then again both together..
The pain is not exactly a "pain" but more of a throbbing...gnawing nature... it defiinately affects me ! Any input...? anyone?

January 5, 2010 - 11:26pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon - It's difficult to tell what you may be dealing with from the description you've given. Does the information provided about osteoarthritis in this thread sound like what you're experiencing? If not, here's information about the sciatic nerve or sciatica which could also be a possible cause from our EmpowHer encyclopedia page on Sciatica, its causes, symptoms and treatments:


Does this sound like it could be what's bothering you?

January 8, 2010 - 6:37pm
EmpowHER Guest

i am wondering if the original post was able to find a solution for her problem? i, too, experience this dull ache on whichever hip i happen to be laying on. i do work out consistently (3-4 times a week). i do sit for long periods during the day but i stretch and take frequent breaks. i find myself flipping from around 2-6am almost every 30-45 min. it is a deep ache that intensifies if i stretch out and i usually just move to the other side.

December 17, 2009 - 2:57pm
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