Variations of this story popped up recently in my Knee Alerts from Google.
In brief, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are recruiting patients with knee osteoarthritis for a study looking at how sleep problems may influence knee pain.
“There is growing evidence that poor sleep can itself lead to an increase in pain,” according to Megan Ruiter, who’s involved in the effort.
“Treating sleep to modify pain may allow more options than simply treating pain at the source, which is often extremely difficult,” she said.
Welllll ... I’m not sure that treating knee pain at the source is “often extremely difficult.” There are challenges; it takes a while to achieve real, lasting gains. But what’s that saying about if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well, whatever the sleep researcher version of that adage is, that may be good to keep in mind here.
Still, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the study finds a link between sleeping issues/disorders and higher levels of knee pain. I think bad knees can be highly sensitive to a whole bunch of things, from approaching storms to not getting a full night’s rest. Plus, remember: our bodies need those hours of sleep to rest and recover when injured anyway.
Which reminds me: Someone once asked me which sleeping position I think is best for bad knees. My answer (from my own experience) is here; this became one of my most popular posts. In short: I found that, at least with my knees, it didn’t matter too much which position I slept in (besides, you can fall asleep on your right side and wake up on your back anyway).
The important thing, to me: Make sure you get enough sleep, whether you prefer sleeping on your side, your back, or upside down on your head. Try to stay well-rested. It may seem like a little thing, but the little things count.