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Posted in: Back pain, Chronic pain, and Sleep.

Severe hip pain while trying to sleep

From: JarJarBinks - on 02/14/2010 8:52pm

I am a long time back pain sufferer, and totally disabled. My endurance is really short. In 2006 I had fusion of L4/L5. I take Oxy and Clonazepam meds daily. I have tried many other therapies, and I have sleep problems like RLS, PLMD, and insomnia, but I am trying to keep this description short.

Over the past year things have become frighteningly worse for my hip pain. There is an area on the side of both hips that just will not tolerate even mild pressure. That is, I cannot lie on either side without severe pain developing, and there is no way I can sleep after that sets in.

I have had to improvise various ways to suspend my hips off of my mattress. I have found that I can avoid the pain for a few hours by arranging sofa pillows under my body in such a way that it suspends my hips over my mattress. (It's really quite a sight to see.) Anyway, after about 3-4 hours this remedy causes severe pain in my entire upper back and ribs. By the time I have had 7-8 hours sleep, I have to force myself out of bed and rearrange my bed so I can apply heat to my back. It can take hours to recover from each night of trying to sleep.

Does anyone have any knowledge of what is happening to me?

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I intend to try to find another doctor.
Any ideas on what specialty they should be?

Do you have any questions for me?

Thank you for your help!


Do you find this discussion helpful?

13 Responses

on 02/17/2010 11:06am


I have also had fusion of L4 & 5 both posterior and anterior. Fortunately, the second surgery helped me a great deal. I am dealing with sciatica at the moment, but, have not had any real problems until about a week ago when I twisted wrong.....(really stupid....I knew better)

You have not stated your age...but, I thought I would throw this possibility out there. My mother in law was having terrible hip pain and could not get comfortable in bed and walking was impossible for anything more than a few steps. Turned out she had vascular issues that were causing her pain due to low blood flow to her legs. She underwent a rather major vasular surgery bypassing the clogged arteries and her pain is gone.
This may be something to consider or ask your doctor about.
Hope you find relief....sleep deprivation really wears on you!

on 02/17/2010 3:35pm


Thank you for your reply. I have an appointment with a new doctor next week. I will ask him to consider your suggestion. (By the way, I am 63.)

Thanks again,


on 02/19/2010 1:19pm

I had a similar experience because of L4, L5 ,stenosis, scoliosis problems. I am now able to lie flat on either my back or sides, with a king size pillow under my knees while on my back, or between my legs while on my side. I had cortisone injections into my spine and take antinflammatories and analgesics. But before this temporarily successful treatment, I slept with five assorted pillows and a wedge. The only time the hip pain subsided for sleep was for the three to four hours when I could endure sleeping propped up on a 12 inch tall wedge, which caused my head to droop with resultant head and neck pain. I put a Posturpedic foam contoured pillow at the top of the wedge for my head, another pillow long ways for my upper torso, a king size pillow under my knees, a tiny airline type pillow in my lumbar area, and an inflatable horseshoe shaped neck pillow around my neck (Brookstone) to minimize head roll. Often I propped at least one arm on another king size pillow to minimize shoulder joint strain. Thank goodness I had all those useful props. Good luck, Chuck. JL

on 02/19/2010 2:49pm


Thanks for the reply.

That sounds like what I have been through. I have tried some of the same things that you have mentioned. I too have had a sore neck from over stretching.

I have tried wedges and all kinds of pillows. Sometimes I can fall asleep while sitting up to watch TV, but it only lasts for an hour. That reminds me, the sofa pillows I mentioned in my first post are not pillows - they are the actual sofa cushions that support a person's back when sitting on the sofa. My wife made a big flannel bag for me to put them in by sewing a flannel sheet together. It is very much oversized, but that is good. It allows me to put each sofa cushion in the place I want it, allowing a gap for my hip to suspend over the mattress. Then, I tuck the excess bag under the cushions, and my body weight keeps them all (3 cushions) in place. I surround that with regular pillows.

I also have "Obstructive Sleep Apnea". That means that I must wear a pressurized mask over my nose and mouth, otherwise I stop breathing. It works best when I am on my side. When I am on my back, it leaks air, which is disturbing.

Other OSA sufferers know about the problem of air leakage when their mouth drops open. Most of us use a homemade "chin strap" to keep our mouths shut. (All puns allowed! LOL) For me, the straps offered for sale are usually too small to stay put. So again, my wife came to my aid. I asked her to sew 2 forehead sweatbands together, edge-to-edge. I asked her to not sew the entire edge, but leave about 2 inches open on opposite edges. Those open places are positioned over my chin and the crown of my head. They keep the strap in place.

You have to pick the right headbands at the sporting goods store. (They vary in construction.) For me, I use 2 medium strength bands. Any tighter and they will pull my jaw out of place; any weaker and my jaw opens.

(Foregive me for jumping off topic.)


on 02/20/2010 1:11am

May be something is wrong in your sleeping posture. You should sleep straight without taking any toss.

Advanced Acai

on 02/20/2010 11:00pm


I'm sure body position has a lot to do with it. Something has changed about me. I have always slept on my side - even after the fusion surgery. I keep trying new things. Many times they will work for a while, and the pain is gone. Then, in only a few days it's back again. It's almost like the pain is an entity that stalks me.

Last night was typical; I was OK for about 4 hours. Then, BAM! I was in severe pain. Today has been worse than most.

I'm going to try yet another experiment tonight. We'll see if it makes any difference.

I will be seeing a new doctor next Wednesday, 2/24/2010. I expect that it will be some time before he has any idea of what's causing my problems. You know the routine...MRI, scans, EEG, etc. etc.

My wife and I are trying to buy a "ranch style house" (all living space on one level). She is almost to the point where she can't climb stairs. Our current house is a "split level". It has 5 levels. There is no way to avoid stairs. Then, we will have to find a way to work through the pain just to get moved to the new house. Well, you know what I mean.

Thanks for the suggestion!


on 02/28/2010 7:16pm

Hello Chuck... I understand what you are going through.. I have lower lumbar S-1, L5, L4 fusion and wretched facet joints in conjunction with all the other laments of stenosis, ect... However I also suffer from exquisite hip pain in the exact manner of which you are describing and to my dismay it was one of the first signs of Fibromyalgia. Which for me was just icing on the cake (I too am totally disabled fro all this) Please have yourself screened for Fibro! It is more common that we would like to think that many of us that suffer from chronic spinal pain are prime targets for Fibro, especially now that the research has led to the discovery that that this is a central nervous system disorder and can often be triggered by spinal/cervial injury/disease.. again please consider getting checked out; as one of the classic Fibromyalgia symptoms is the trigger point test and this hip spot is one of them. Good Luck and Blessings to you...

Sarah in Bend, OR

on 02/28/2010 9:24pm


Thank you for your reply. It really helps to know that you (and others) understand what I am trying to describe.

I also thank you for your sincere urging that I get checked for FM. It just so happens that since I first posted this plea for help, I have been diagnosed as having FM by my pain specialist and an orthopedic surgeon as well.

My real estate agent also has FM. She conceals it well. She said that sometimes she can't even drive to work. She loaned a book to me that she said was very helpful and encouraging to her. I have been very excited by what I am learning about FM. I am recognizing medical events in my life as sign-posts of FM.

I was surprised to read that the tender points you mentioned may vary widely from person-to-person and from day-to-day. For me, the pain varies widely. One day I hurt so badly that I can't function at all. I mean, my body feels like it has been beaten with a baseball bat. I am also very cold. I curl up under the blankets and shiver violently, while at the same time I am sweating. I don't even want to get out from under the blankets long enough to take medication.

FM is not the only weird thing I suffer from. Briefly, I have lost the vision in my left eye from a detached retina. (No cause was ever determined.) I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, atrial fibrillation, erratic blood pressure, and I'll stop here by adding that my kidneys are beginning to degenerate.

From what I am reading and learning from nice people like you, and others in this group, these other problems could be the cause of FM -or- they could be just another expression of FM. Strange, very strange indeed.

Thank you again for your reply and your suggestions. I pray to God to ease the suffering of us all.

Sleep well my friends.


on 05/27/2010 5:26pm


I too have terrible sleeping habits and used to wake up frequently due to pains in my lower back. This went on for years and it affected everything in my life including my golf game! My wife suggested that I may have a mild case of sleep apnea. So I went and got tested and it turns out she was right. The doctor suggested I get on CPAP machines to cure this problem. I have been using my sleep machine for just over 6 months now and it has cured every side effect I had. Not only do I wake up with more energy and no back pain, but I am back to shooting in the 80s!

on 02/01/2011 1:04pm

Nice Post, I thought that for patients with back pain, however, lying flat is not always comfortable. For these patients, adjustable beds may be the answer. While there are no scientific studies that prove adjustable beds can relieve back pain, some of their features may be able to help patients with back pain get more comfortable during sleep...

on 02/01/2011 4:55pm


I've pondered the idea of adjustable beds before. I have already spent so darn much money beds; why not another one?

On January 18, 2011, I had surgery to remove my thyroid (cancer). During the scheduling process, I requested that they provide an air mattress instead of the usually very hard hospital beds I have had so many times before.

They did as I asked. It just would have been nicer for me (and my poor room mate) if they would have put it in place before people were trying to sleep. I think they came in the room at about 10:30 PM. Then it took another hour to remove the old mattress and install the air mattress. (Hospitals are a den of disorganization!) Anyway, the air mattress, over the adjustable frame, worked well.

Here's something the salesman won't tell you:
My wife and I used to share a "Sleep Number Bed" (you've seen the commercials - fancy air mattress). It was nice, but we discovered a crop of black mold inside. The company obviously had other similar complaints, because they sent us some things they had on hand to address the problem. None of them worked for us. The solution was apparent once you understood the problem. That is, the heat from our bodies would cause water to condense on the cold air chambers; perfect for mold. The only solution that would have worked would be to maintain the heat inside the air chambers to equal that of our bodies; something like an electric blanket under the air chamber would probably work. They said they had not thought about that solution.

In the end, they made good on their warranty and refunded about 80% of our money. Maybe they have even used my idea to solve what has to be a common problem for their product. (No royalty checks yet!)


on 04/16/2011 11:28am

Maybe a good mattress will solve your problems. I was suffering from chronic back pains and found some memory foam mattress ratings online, and decided to get one, and was cured in a few weeks..simply amazing.

on 04/16/2011 4:08pm


Thanks for your reply. Like I said above, I have tried many mattresses at great cost to me. I have tried everything from "Select Comfort" to "Temperpedic". They all have their pros and cons.

Currently, I am using a locally-made, "Hanna Posturpedic" with a honey-comb topper, which is very soft. It has been helping. The only problem is that I must lie almost on my stomach (but lot entirely). I also put 2 small pillows at the foot of the bed, under the covers. I put my feet on top of those, which relieves the normal stress I would feel if lying on my stomach alone. The key seems that I cannot allow any contact with the sciatic nerve in the hip. I also use a single, fully stuffed pillow for my head, and 2 not so stuffed pills at my side so I can put my arm over the one I happen to be facing - total of 5 pillows of varying resistance.

I use a BiPAP, full face mask circuit, which gets in the way. I wake up every hour or 2 to turn over. Of course this is disturbing, but it's the best I can do.

Oh, when I am sitting I always have a heating pad over a back support. I take pain meds, but the constipation is a severe problem.

To everyone!

If you take pain meds (or other meds), then you probably have problems with constipation. I am trying all kinds of laxatives and fibers, but I have gotten myself into "serious" trouble with their repeated use. I will not describe it here, but you can contact me at my email address for details ("where.the.sun.dont.shine@comcast.net") , or if you think you might have some questions or advice that might help. Please include your email so we can keep this gross subject private.

Thanks again, AmberU, and I pray that we all find relief from our suffering!

JarJarBinks (Chuck)