Arthritis: Beat arthritis pain naturally before going to bed – expert’s top tips

Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition

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Osteopath Bethany Elliott-Hutton cautioned that painful joints can disrupt sleep, leading to a “troublesome cycle” of pain and fatigue. “The time medication for arthritis is taken may be linked to why people suffer more pain from arthritis at night,” Elliott-Hutton said. “Usually, arthritis medications are taken first thing in the morning so, by the evening, the medication may have worn off.”

Elliott-Hutton thinks that “arthritis pain at night time may be linked to our circadian rhythms”.

The expert elaborated: “At night time the body releases less of the anti-inflammatory chemical known as cortisol.

“Therefore, [this could lead] to increased inflammatory-related pain during the night.”

Elliott-Hutton also believes that spending a long enough time in one sleeping position could increase the likelihood of painful joints during the night.

Staying in one position for too long “puts increased pressure on the joints resulting in irritation and pain”.

To help ease and reduce pain effectively before bedtime, Elliott-Hutton recommends considering what time you take your arthritis medication (if applicable).

Furthermore, practising good sleep hygiene could help you fall asleep faster and for longer, meaning you are not awake at night, in pain, looking out into the darkness.

In order to improve sleep hygiene, it’s helpful to:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night
  • Avoid exercising four hours before bedtime
  • Avoid using phones/tablets/laptops a few hours before bed
  • Avoid daytime naps where possible.

Elliott-Hutton added that it would be helpful to “check your mattress”.

She explained: “Having a supportive mattress can make a big difference in your comfort levels whilst sleeping when suffering [from] arthritis.

“It is important to make sure that the mattress is not too firm so it can reduce the contact pressure on the joints.”

Positioning your pillows can also play a part in reducing arthritis joint pain during the night.

Elliott-Hutton said: “If you are suffering [from] arthritis of the hip, then placing a pillow in between the knees when sleeping on your side can help ease the pressure on the hip.”

The expert continued: “Using pillows as support whilst sleeping can be really helpful in aiding a more comfortable night’s sleep.”

Why does osteoarthritis hurt?

Doctor David Zelman verified that osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease whereby the firm, rubbery cartilage covering the bones breaks down.

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in a joint to become stiff and, as the cartilage wears away, tendons and ligaments stretch, causing pain.

When the condition worsens, bones within a joint may start to rub against each other; this causes even more pain and loss of movement.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe, with joints becoming achey, sore, and painful.

One way to help relieve pain is to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.

Osteopath Bethany Elliott-Hutton is based at the Bodytonic Clinic.

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