Are you plagued by joint pain at night?

Joint pain at night is no picnic, and it can be caused by one or more of several factors.

Nighttime Joint Pain vs. Muscle Aches

“The first thing to determine is whether what you are feeling is really joint pain, rather than a muscular ache,” says Dr. Mark Galland, orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina.

A distinguishing factor between pain in a joint and pain in a muscle is that the former seems to be coming smack from the joint itself.

The ache of a muscle, on the other hand, seems to originate in the fleshy area of the muscle — between joints.

“If the discomfort you are feeling truly is joint pain, it will most commonly be caused by arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff dysfunction or joint degeneration,” says Dr. Galland.

“If you are experiencing joint pain – not just muscle soreness – this discomfort should warrant a visit to an orthopedic surgeon.”

Make sure that any joint pain that you’ve been experiencing at night is not related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

A woman can also get mid-cycle joint pain. However, this can occur during the day as well.

Surprising Causes of Joint Aches at Night

There are more causes of joint discomfort overnight that deserve some mentioning: microscopic colitis, as well as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Add lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome to this list. However, as with mid-cycle joint pain, this symptom can occur any time of the day.

I had a bout with microscopic colitis (confirmed via colonoscopy), and this benign condition can present with one or more of several symptoms, including joint aches and dehydration.

These two symptoms I definitely had, along with the hallmark diarrhea.

If you have microscopic colitis, you’ll know something’s up: It causes watery, painless diarrhea, though the diarrhea may also be more “formed.”

This condition causes release of prostaglandins, the same hormones that are released during PMS that cause aching joints!

Dr. Galland has authored many book chapters and papers in sports medicine. His advice and consultation have been sought by world-class athletes in track and field and Major League Baseball.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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