Hip Pain at Night: Why It Happens & What to Do About It

About half of older adults have hip or knee pain. While hip pain is more common in older adults, anyone can experience it. For many, the pain gets worse at night. But why? What causes hip pain at night? What can you do to get some relief? Read on to find out!

What Causes Hip Pain at Night?

hip pain at night why it happens what to do about it woman holding her hip in pain in the morning

Hip pain can be caused by many things – some easy to fix and others more complicated. Some of the most common causes are:

Hip Osteoarthritis

One of the most common causes of hip pain is hip osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition. It primarily affects adults aged 50 and older, but it can affect younger people, too. 

Osteoarthritis develops gradually, and the pain gets worse over time.

With hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your hip joint wears away over time. As it wears, the cartilage becomes rough and jagged. As a result, the protective space between your bones gradually disappears, and your bones start rubbing together. 

Imaging tests can determine whether osteoarthritis is causing your hip pain.


Bursitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the bursa, the small jelly-like sacs that sit between bones to reduce friction. There are two bursae in the hip that commonly become inflamed and irritated. 

Pain is the most common symptom, and it usually gets worse at night when laying on the affected hip or when standing up from a chair after sitting for a while.


Like bursitis, tendonitis is an inflammatory condition that can cause hip pain. It occurs when your hip muscles are overused and pull on the tendons attached to your hip bone. Eventually, the hip becomes irritated and inflamed. 

Along with pain, you may also experience some swelling and tenderness in your hip.

Tendonitis can be caused by overuse and exercising improperly. If left untreated, the condition can eventually lead to complete loss of movement in the hip.

Referred Pain

Sometimes, hip pain isn’t directly related to the hip itself, but rather, an issue affecting a nearby area of the body.  For example, you may have pain in your lower back that causes pain in your hip. When this happens, it’s called referred pain.

Your Sleep Position or Environment

Your hip pain may have a simple explanation: poor sleeping habits or environment. You may experience hip pain because:

  • You need a new mattress, or your mattress doesn’t provide the level of support your body needs. If your mattress is too soft or too hard, it can hit pressure points that cause pain.
  • You don’t have the right pillows for your sleep position.
  • Your sleeping position is putting extra strain on your hips. Try sleeping on your back. If you’re a side sleeper, try sleeping on the side that doesn’t hurt. Consider sleeping with a knee pillow to keep your hips aligned while you sleep.

If a medical condition isn’t causing your hip pain, take a closer look at how and where you sleep. Investing in a new mattress and pillows is a small price to pay for a better, more comfortable night’s sleep.

What to Do About Your Hip Pain

You can do several things to reduce or eliminate your hip pain at night. 

Use Pillows for Support

For immediate relief, try using pillows to support and keep your hips properly aligned. Here are some tips:

  • Place a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off of your hips.
  • Next, place a folded blanket or pillow underneath your hip for a little extra cushioning.
  • If you sleep on your back, place pillows underneath your knees.

Pillows may not provide long-term relief, but this is a simple solution you can use to get some immediate relief.

Physical Therapy

hip pain at night why it happens what to do about it woman doing physical therapy for hip pain

Depending on the cause of your hip pain, physical therapy may help. Your physical therapist will examine your strength, range of motion, functional abilities, and balance to create a treatment plan that helps you reach your goals.

Physical therapy may involve:

  • Stretches
  • Balance training
  • Strength-building exercises
  • Joint mobilization or stabilization
  • Gait training

Your therapist may also recommend assistive devices or orthotics.

Pain Cream and Gels

Natural pain creams and gels can help bring you relief now and over the long term while treating your hip pain.

Some topical products, like our Pain Warrior+ Cream, also act as anti-inflammatories. This anti-inflammatory effect may provide relief now and even help with symptoms of the condition causing your pain. For example, hip bursitis and tendonitis are inflammatory conditions. Therefore, reducing inflammation can help address the root cause of the problem.

Look for topical products that contain effective natural ingredients for pain, like:


Diffusing essential oils can also help reduce pain, help you relax, and even improve your sleep. In fact, studies have found that aromatherapy is effective for pain when used with conventional treatments.

Essential oils that can help with pain include:

Just add a few drops to your diffuser, kick back and relax. You can also use essential oil blends for improved relief. Try our Pain Warrior essential oil blend in your diffuser or topically mixed with a carrier oil!

Preventing Hip Pain

Once you get your hip pain under control, it’s important to take steps to prevent it from returning. Unfortunately, some conditions cannot be cured and become progressively worse over time. However, you can still take steps now to slow the progression or prevent the pain from becoming worse.

You can help prevent hip pain by:

  • Stretching regularly. Try stretching your hips daily. You can do this several times throughout the day and at night before bed. 
  • Engaging in low-impact exercise. Walking, swimming, and water aerobics are great low-impact exercises that can help keep your hips strong. 
  • Improve your sleeping habits. Invest in a new mattress. Take the time to relax before bed, or even consider an aromatherapy session. Keep your room dark, quiet and cool. Improving your sleep environment can help you get a better night of sleep and even prevent hip pain that’s sleep-related.

Hip pain can disrupt your life and make it harder to sleep well at night. Now that you have a better understanding of what's causing your pain, you can take steps to address it or prevent it in the future.

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This means no more tossing and turning trying to find a position that doesn't provoke the pain.  Experience the relief you need and get a better nights rest than ever before!

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