Arthritis sufferers know that joint pain worsens at night. What is not conclusively understood is exactly why this is. Nevertheless, several theories about nighttime joint pain prevail.


No Distractions

During the day, life is filled with distractions. But at night, we are alone with our pain, a phenomenon that increases its intensity. In addition, darkness is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of isolation, an emotion that only exacerbates the problem.


Daily Activity

Although some nighttime pain occurs on days that were not highly active, it is logical to conclude that nighttime pain may result from daytime joint overuse. If this pattern seems familiar, try to rest your joints periodically during the day.

Worrying too much about daily wear and tear could be counterproductive, however. Strength and flexibility are the keys to good musculoskeletal health. Therefore, make sure to engage in reasonable stretching, strengthening and endurance activities every day.


Lying Down

Lying supine changes the way our body works. Our hormones change, our respiration changes and our circulation changes. Any of these changes could contribute to increased pain.


Adrenal Fatigue

When the adrenal gland is highly functional, then it has natural anti-inflammatory properties. However, during periods of stress, the adrenal gland works overtime and becomes less efficient. To make matters worse, living with chronic pain is a significant stressor. By evening, the adrenal glands can become exhausted, leaving the sufferer prey to increased swelling as the sun goes down.



You can help your adrenal gland work more efficiently by eliminating as many stressors as possible from your life. Eliminating stress also helps minimize joint pain since stress releases chemicals that increase pain. Some ways to reduce stress include reducing sugar, nicotine and caffeine intake, meditating, doing yoga, exercising and losing weight.


The Vicious Cycle of Insomnia

One of the biggest stressors is insomnia. Insomnia leads to a deep and debilitating fatigue, which, in turn, leads to increased joint pain. If insomnia continues, it can deplete the immune system, a situation that is particularly concerning to those suffering from autoimmune manifestations of arthritis. To combat insomnia, create a sleep routine, avoid caffeine, and consider cognitive behavior therapy or circadian rhythm treatments.


Immobile Joints

Some joint pain occurs because joints are averse to immobility. To circumvent this cause of nighttime pain, try engaging in some early evening stretching. In addition, make sure to exercise regularly during the day.

Understanding possible causes of nighttime joint pain can help you take steps to reduce this pain. If pain persists, however, try some common joint pain treatments, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, muscle relaxers and topical pain relievers. Eventually, to relieve your pain, you may consider orthopedic surgery, such as joint replacement, fusion & realignment.

While increased pain at night is common, it is not something you have to live with. Taking action to prevent nighttime joint pain can dramatically improve your life by decreasing incidents of insomnia, isolation and stress.