The joints can become tender or achy for a variety of reasons, and joint pain at night may be due to the same causes of pain during the day, or a separate condition. Fibromyalgia may be a possibility, as is restless leg syndrome (RLS). Injuries to the joint can also lead to pain at night, as can conditions such as arthritis. Often, the joints can become inflamed at night, particularly in menopausal or pre-menopausal women. This may be due in part to diet, exercise habits, or sleep habits. A correct diagnosis will often necessitate a trip to a medical professional.
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which various parts of the body become extremely sensitive to pressure, in turn causing a painful sensation in different parts of the body. Joint pain at night can be a result of this condition, and other symptoms such as sleep disorders often accompany the pain. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, and treatment is generally aimed at managing the symptoms to ease the stress of the condition. Causes range from genetic predisposition to high levels of stress, and in the latter case, the condition may dissipate or disappear if daily routines are modified to reduce stress. This will in turn lead to a reduction or elimination of joint pain.
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An injury can also cause joint pain at night. Direct trauma can damage ligaments or the bones of a joint. What may seem like a minor injury may seem more painful at night because swelling and inflammation is likely to occur if the injury is untreated. Icing the affected area can help reduce swelling and bruising, relieving some of the pain. Resting the joint for several days and taking over-the-counter medications is often enough to manage the pain in such an instance.
Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which a sufferer feels a nearly constant need to move his or her legs to alleviate some kind of discomfort, particularly when at rest. This may lead to overuse of the legs, causing joint pain. RLS is also often accompanied by other symptoms, such as insomnia. As the joints become overused, the ligaments and muscles tend to tighten. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of RLS, and full treatment involves identifying the cause of the condition.
Other conditions, such as arthritis, can cause joint pain during the day or night. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in a joint begins to break down, allowing bone to rub on bone or on nerve endings. This can lead to bone spurs, which can cause even more pain. Arthritis is usually managed with medication, stretching, and gentle exercise.