Why knee pain can feel worse at night
This question was sent to me yesterday by a reader suffering with knee pain:
“Paul, I’ve suffered on-off type knee pain now for more than a year. What I can’t put my finger on is when it started or why, and more confusing is that my pain gets worse as the day goes on. But whenever I wake up, the pain is gone – or is considerably less. Yet, by the end of another day, my knee aches, sometimes feels hot and swollen and I’m often in considerable pain – especially if I’ve been out for a long walk with the dog. Any ideas?”
Beverly, 57. Seaton.
What’s happening here is likely to be a simple case of the muscles around Beverly’s knee joint being ‘weak’.
The muscles just aren’t strong enough to last through the day or cope with what she wants her body to do and where she wants to go.
Think of it like this: when you go to bed at night and are ready to sleep – your body is obviously tired from all the energy you’ve used through the day, and your muscles, well, they’ve been working too.
So what happens is they get a rest when you sleep, you wake up and they ache less because they’re less tired and feel ‘energised’ and ready for a new day.
But if a muscle, any muscle, is weak or damaged in some way, it’s not going to be able to support you through the long day ahead. And so somewhere around teatime, after a lot of ‘being on your feet’, muscles will ‘pack up’.
And when they do this, joints, such as your knees, are left to fight their own battles! And that’s not good. Particularly if you’re aged 45+… as that’s the period where cartilage damage begins (arthritis) and surfaces of your knee start to rub together.
And without muscles to support these knee joints, (or just really tired and weak ones), you’re much more likely to suffer aches and pains.
The same thing often happens with neck and shoulder muscles at night too – and it’s the reason why when you have a the ‘flu’ or a common cold, you always feel worse at night.
Ever noticed your child get more ‘ratty’ as the night draws in if he or she has a virus?
The same thing is going on with you.
Your body puts up a better fight after a good night’s sleep, though as it begins to get tired again through the day, the virus or bacteria wins the fight!
So, the answer to Beverly’s knee problem?
Well, it’s likely to be a simple case of strengthening knee muscles (and hip and lower back ones too) to make them stronger.
But here’s something people often get wrong: walking a dog everyday will do very little to strengthen muscles – if anything, it’ll make weak muscles worse and mean you’re more likely to suffer more pain, not less.
No, the answer is not found in more exercising, it’s in doing the right exercises to strengthen the right muscles, which means your knee will be strong enough to walk.
And this in turn means you can keep your heart and lungs healthy, and do it with less knee pain at the end of a day.
For a completely free report on ways to ease chronic knee pain naturally, please visit www.paulgoughphysio.com/knee-pain or call my clinic on 01429 86671 and we’ll send you your free copy.