Waking up with knee pain - why?
April 29, 2011 5:43 PM   Subscribe

About once a week, I wake up with a searing pain on the inside of my top knee (if I'm sleeping on my right hand side, it's my left knee that hurts). The only way to get out of it is to physically hold my knee, take the weight of my leg, and move it into a different / straighter position. Once I've done that, the pain completely goes away and there is no after-effect at all - I can get out of bed and run around with no residual pain whatsoever. But I don't think this is normal...

This has been happening for a few years now, but I'm starting to worry about it... It doesn't wake me up, it's just that when I wake up, I can't move my leg without making the pain even worse.

Is this doing long term damage to me?

How do I stop this happening? (I tend to sleep on my side, if that matters)
posted by finding.perdita to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm wondering if you have a cartiledge problem, or a small piece of fractured bone? Repositioning your knee may move it out of the way, or into the right position.
posted by xingcat at 6:02 PM on April 29, 2011

You need to talk to an orthopedist; your physician can probably refer you to one.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2011

Agree with Inspector Gadget. Talk to an Orthopedic Surgeon via your GP.

Could be something like a meniscus tear. Had one of these 10 years ago. Was very painful and caused significant movement restriction of the knee.

posted by Dr Strange at 6:13 PM on April 29, 2011

IANAD but i agree this sounds like a meniscus-related issue. Talk to an orthopedist. You may be able to manage it with Physical therapy alone. If not, a simple arthroscopic surgery will take care of it.
posted by halfguard at 6:21 PM on April 29, 2011

if I'm sleeping on my right hand side, it's my left knee that hurts

You mean, it happens to either knee, depending on which side you're sleeping on?

Then it probably isn't your meniscus. (menisci?)

I've had the arthroscopic surgery a lot of people my age (late 50s) have needed for meniscus repair. Before I got mine, my pain was a more constant thing, with spikes depending on how much I bent my knee. (If I crouched down, I'd be screaming.) How old are you, finding.perdita? Because now that I think of it, when I was younger (20s-30s) I used to get a sharp (though I wouldn't quite call it searing) pain in my knee or ankle while lying down, but more just then rather than when waking up. The reason I bring this up is I learned that just putting weight on it made the pain vanish. So, that's what I'd do when it happened -- hop out of bed, stand for a moment, then get back into bed. I think it's more like a muscle cramp. Still happens occasionally.
posted by Rash at 6:48 PM on April 29, 2011

Rash - good question. Thinking about it, I pretty much always sleep on my right hand side, so I'm not sure that I can remember ever having the pain in my right knee, so possibly the meniscus thing might have someone to do with it.

I'm 37, if that helps. I had a minor netball injury when I was 15 that caused some occasional knee discomfort for a couple of years (but I can't remember which knee it was!). This pain is definitely "searing" when it happens. But there's absolutely no pain once the knee is repositioned, and I don't have any pain when exercising, even when doing lunges or squats or running, or other things that knees are important for. It's very weird.
posted by finding.perdita at 7:03 PM on April 29, 2011

this sounds somewhat like when my knee (either side) goes 'out of joint'. Usually it happens to me because of an unusual awkward movement or twist. It's very painful and nothing can make it right again except putting it back 'in' by forcibly moving it (which kills). And then it feels perfectly normal. And I have no other issues with my knees. I've been assured there's nothing too unusual about this happening, especially since it happened to me a lot more when I was younger....but if I didn't know what it was, I'd get it checked out as others have recommened....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:49 PM on April 29, 2011

I get this. I haven't been to the doctor for it - just recently got insurance - but in my experience it only happens when I'm sleeping on my side and the bad knee (my left as well) is on top. I've "fixed" it by putting a pillow between my knees when it starts hurting. I think the pillow keeps the knee from "getting out of joint," as I put it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:53 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did you recently bang your knee on something? I have had this when i had a floating piece of bone in my knee after banging it on something.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:29 AM on April 30, 2011

FWIW I started sleeping with a pillow between by knees as suggested by The Light Fantastic. Nearly 6 months on and this hasn't recurred. Result!
posted by finding.perdita at 6:55 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

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