It is true, joint pain increases at night. There is scientific evidence to prove it. But why does this happen? Ankle pain at night is very common and there are different factors that can explain its cause.
At night we have fewer distractions, tasks disappear and the brain concentrates more on pain. Temperature changes also have an influence, the body temperature drops and the perception of pain increases. On the other hand, our nerves are more sensitive when we sleep because our body is relaxed and breathing is slower, so blood vessels dilate and pain is perceived more.
And we must not forget stress, the major aggravator of today’s major health problems. A higher level of cortisol in the blood will control the sleep cycle and negatively influence the perception of pain. In this article we explain what the best treatment is and what guidelines you should follow to avoid ankle pain at night.
What is nocturnal joint pain?
Joint pain can be felt in joints throughout the body. It can be a symptom of many different health conditions. Arthritis is the most common cause of joint pain and there are more than 100 types of arthritis. The degree of intensity of joint pain can vary from mild to severe.
Nocturnal joint pain is pain that is most concentrated at night. It is most often in the ankles, legs or neck. But why does this happen and what can I do? Here are some of the reasons for night pain:
- Fluid accumulation: When the body is at rest, fluid accumulates in and around the joints, causing swelling and inflammation. This causes the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints to become tight and stiff. The result is joint pain at night and upon waking.
- Cytokines: At night, some of your cells release cytokines, which are small proteins that help activate your immune system. Some cytokines help trigger sleep. But they can also cause inflammation, which may increase joint pain.
- Body position: Sleeping position can put pressure on the joints, making existing joint pain worse. For example: In cases of hip or shoulder pain on one side of the body, it is advisable to avoid putting pressure on that joint by sleeping on the other side. Wrist pain is made worse by sleeping with the wrists bent.
Neck pain can be made worse by sleeping on your stomach and with your neck twisted to one side for several hours at a time.
- Mattress and pillow: The mattress and pillow may also be part of the problem. A mattress that is too soft and unsupportive may not provide enough cushioning to support proper spinal alignment. This can put pressure on sensitive joints.
If the pillow is too high, too low or lumpy, it can force you to hold your neck and shoulder joints in an unnatural position while you sleep. This can irritate your nerves and lead to joint pain.
What happens when your legs hurt at night?
There are many theories as to why joints may ache more at night. The most common causes include:
- Daily activity: During the day it is normal to be moving, handling objects, being physically active, walking, climbing stairs… This activity makes the joints ‘hot’, which leads to lighter pain. However, at night we tend to be more immobile, which causes a more pronounced pain.
- Stress: Throughout the day it is possible to experience situations of worry, work pressure, anxiety, unhealthily managed stress… According to this study on the neurobiology of stress carried out by a hospital in France, this causes an increase in the level of cortisol in the blood.
- Food: There are certain components of the food we eat every day that have the capacity to cause inflammation in our organism, as well as in joints, as well as making us accumulate toxins. A healthy and personalised diet for each specific case is essential to take care of our joint health and keep the body away from an inflammatory state. On the other hand, an inappropriate diet has a negative effect on the appearance and aggravation of nocturnal joint pain.
- Sedentary lifestyle: lack of mobility during the day or a prolonged sedentary lifestyle increases the likelihood of joint pain at night.
- Adrenal fatigue: our adrenal glands are related to the stimulation of the nervous system that causes pain, tiredness, anxiety, insomnia, lack of appetite… This is related to the fact that pain can intensify during the night.
Remember: When joints don’t move enough, stiffness and stiffness set in. Simple stretching exercises in the morning and evening will help to minimise the pain.
What can cause ankle pain?
It is possible to feel pain in the ankles and legs only at night, as the lack of movement can make the joints or muscles stiffer.
The pain can be muscular, nervous, joint…, joint pain being the most common when there is pain in the ankles at night. The level of carbon dioxide in the blood increases at night because the body is more relaxed and breathing is slower. This causes the vessels to dilate and the nerves to become more sensitive. As a result, our ability to perceive pain increases.
Did you know that night-time bone and joint pain is one of the main causes of occasional sleeplessness?
- Lifestyle factors:
- Unsuitable or wrong size shoes.
- Excessive work in the ankle area or too much time standing and standing.
- Diseases and other health conditions:
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis of the ankle: This is one of the most common causes. Gravity puts pressure on the joints when we lie down, which can irritate or contribute to further inflammation.
- Peripheral neuropathy: This involves damage to the nerves. This causes pain, tingling and even numbness, and is often worse at night.
- Peripheral vascular disease: This condition causes a narrowing or even blockage in some cases of the blood vessels in the legs, which reduces blood flow in the legs and feet. People with heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight, or smokers are at increased risk and predisposition for this disease.
- Fluid retention: this is more common in women. When there is significant fluid retention in the legs, it can also affect the ankles.
- Muscle fatigue from daily activities.
- Varicose veins: When left untreated, they can cause pain.
Treatment of night pain: 8 tips you need to know
- Cold-Heat Therapy
This study published in the Journal of the Spanish Pain Society states that to avoid night-time joint pain it is advisable to apply cryotherapy (therapy with intervals of cold and heat) one hour before going to bed.
To do so, you need:
– 1 bag of ice cubes.
– 1 large container with a litre of hot water (do not boil) with 3 sprigs of rosemary.
Apply the bag of ice cubes to the painful areas and hold for 20 seconds. Then immerse the joint in the basin of hot water and rosemary.
It is recommended to repeat these steps at least 5 times to relieve pain.
- Healthy and personalised food (suitable for each individual case)
Although the origin of arthritis or osteoarthritis can be very varied, nutrition is a particularly useful tool in any case to improve our quality of life.
A proper diet will help improve your joints, protect cartilage, prevent inflammation and nourish bone.
Recommendations: With food to reduce night-time ankle pain
- Drink an infusion of natural ginger, lemon and a little raw honey daily.
- Prioritise fresh food and fruit.
- Eliminate pre-cooked dishes.
- Oily fish: According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, it helps to maintain cholesterol levels, thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid content.
- Extra virgin olive oil: It has a high antioxidant power and a great anti-inflammatory capacity.
- Tomato, pepper and carrot: They contain lycopene, a substance full of antioxidants according to a study by the Autonomous University of Yucatan.
- Artichokes: The Institute of Sciences of Food Production conducted a study that demonstrated the anti-aging capacity and effect of artichokes.
- Pineapple: Contains bromelain, an enzyme that promotes and improves circulation.
- Lemons and other citrus fruits: Strengthen the immune system thanks to their vitamin C content.
- Whole grains: These are essential for a balanced diet, according to the Mayo Clinic (USA).
- Stretching before going to sleep
Perform gentle joint exercises for legs and ankles before going to sleep. This will make the cartilage and joint less stiff and numb.
To reduce ankle pain at night, try putting a small weight on your ankles and try lifting it 5-8 times. You will notice a lot of relief when you sleep.
- Taking an organic silicon supplement: Organic silicon of plant origin, such as Siliplant Organic Silicon G5, is highly assimilable by the body and promotes the well-being of joints and bones, while strengthening the body in general.
Organic silicon is found in the deepest structures of the body, where our cells form bones and connective tissue, two essential organs for the functioning of our vital functions. Over time, the amount of this mineral decreases and it is highly recommended to provide it through a quality natural nutritional supplement such as Silicium G5 Original, and by promoting the consumption of foods rich in silicon.
You can also enhance its effect by applying an organic silicon gel such as Silicium G5 Gel, enriched with vitamin E (high antioxidant power). The gel with the highest concentration of organic silicon on the market (2500mg/litre).
Do you want to know more? This clinical study demonstrates the increased efficacy of organic silicon as a natural supplement on joint pain, together with the application of silicon gel.
- Natural pain reliever: ginger
Ginger tea is very useful for reducing swelling in the ankles and thus relieving the sensation of night pain.
- 3 grams of fresh ginger (root).
- 1 glass of water (200 ml).
- 25 grams or 1 tablespoon of raw honey, has healing properties and prevents inflammation.
- Boil a glass of water.
- When it comes to the boil, add the ginger and honey.
- Cook for 15 minutes and leave to rest.
How to consume it?
- 1 cup for breakfast.
- 1 cup before bedtime.
6. Wear appropriate footwear.
7. Drink enough water throughout the day: It’s key to keeping your joints properly hydrated.
8. Maintain an active lifestyle: Practising moderate physical exercise and having an active lifestyle is essential to keep your joints in good condition and prevent premature deterioration.
Generally, over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol are most commonly used to treat generalised or common joint pain, such as ankle pain at night.
However, these drugs act as a “patch”. They relieve pain momentarily, but with all the side effects and negative effects of any chemical drug.
In the field of integrative medicine and from a functional perspective, silicon is an essential trace element for numerous biochemical processes at the cellular level. It plays a positive role in homeostatic imbalances or loss of balance in the body. Its ability to detoxify heavy metals, its contribution to collagen, elastin and connective tissue is scientifically proven. As well as its ability to improve and maintain the good condition of the joints.
Post-traumatic stress occurs after a trauma, e.g. joint trauma. This affects the musculoskeletal system and can lead to:
- Muscle pain and tension.
- Postural problems.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Musculoskeletal injuries.
Excessive activation of the central nervous system causes ankle pain to be felt more intensely.
Ankle pain that gets worse at night: find the best solution for you
Nocturnal joint pain and ankle pain at night has a number of underlying causes, from joint injuries to arthritis. It can be very tiring and debilitating, but you don’t have to live with pain! As we have seen, there are treatments and guidelines you can apply to relieve it and prevent insomnia.
Hot-cold treatments and routine stretching before bedtime are very helpful for joint pain. Lifestyle changes such as exercise and dietary improvements also help to relieve pain. In turn, we can make use of natural supplements of widely proven efficacy such as organic silicon, which helps to improve and maintain the good condition of the joints, as well as topical silicon gel which increases the effectiveness of this treatment by reducing the sensation of pain at night to a greater extent.