Can sharp knee pain only when sleeping be caused by cancer?

Pes anserine bursitis is inflammation of the bursa or sac of lubricating fluid located on the inner aspect of the lower knee,” says Devin B. Peck, MD, owner of Austin Interventional Pain in Austin, TX.

What can cause really bad pain in the knee only when sleeping?

Dr. Peck explains, “When sleeping on your side, you can experience pain from this source if the knees lay atop each other, putting pressure on this bursa.

“In fact, this type of bursitis can present as pain only with sleeping or lying down.”

Place a pillow between the knees and legs when you’re sleeping on your side and see if that helps.

“Knee pain that awakens you from sleep can indicate degenerative arthritis,” says Dr. Peck.

What about cancer?

“Joint pain is very rarely the presenting symptom of cancer,” says Dr. Peck.

“With bone tumors, there will commonly be associated symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue or other symptoms, and pain will typically be progressively worse over time.”

If you have pain in your knee that seems to occur only overnight, awakening you from sleep, chances are very unlikely that this is cancer.

“Most osteosarcomas occur in children and young adults,” says the American Cancer Society’s website.

“Teens are the most commonly affected age group, but osteosarcoma can occur at any age.”

Also, if this tumor is causing someone pain in the knee at night or awakening them from sleep, it’s also causing pain during the day.

This article is really about pain in the knee only when sleeping.

Another possible cause is chondromalacia patella or femoral patellar syndrome, a problem that involves the kneecap.

This is probably also causing you some discomfort during the day but is not quite on the radar, but once the knee becomes still while you’ve been sleeping for a while, things just stiffen up.

Dr. Peck’s areas of interest include chronic and acute musculoskeletal pain, sports injuries, arthritis and cancer pain, among many others. Austin Interventional Pain was established in 2019.
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.