9 top reasons people feel leg pain when lying down

leg pain when lying down

When you’re ready for bed and go to lie down, your legs may have a different idea and begin to ache. This can affect anyone and is a common occurrence. You may experience cramping, aching or even a sensation similar to ants marching up and down your legs. It’s unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to be an unsolved mystery keeping you up all night. 

Causes of leg pain when lying down

Figuring out the reason why your legs are keeping you up all night can be due to culprits like:

  • Cramps — Certain movements can trigger cramps when your muscles are fatigued from use. On the flip side, a lack of movement can trigger cramps. Mineral deficiencies and dehydration can also cause your muscles to cramp.

  • Pregnancy — Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body. It increases the blood volume and also places additional strain on the body due to weight gain. The uterus also places extra pressure on veins that carry blood back and forth from the lower extremities. Blocked blood flow and fluid retention can cause aches in your legs when lying down.

  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS) — Restless leg syndrome is a condition that keeps your legs moving even when you want to relax and sleep. RLS can make your legs feel itchy, twitch, or even just feel restless. It can happen anytime you are at rest, but it can be particularly infuriating at night.

  • Gout — Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. This buildup can happen overnight and your body can respond by alerting you that something is wrong in the form of leg pain.

  • Musculoskeletal issues — Problems like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or issues with joints and muscles can cause leg pain, especially when lying down.

  • Blood clot — Blood clots can happen if you have been traveling, especially if it was a long-distance flight or if you have been sitting for long periods of time. If you are experiencing symptoms or suspect you may have a blood clot, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention.

  • Nerve issues — Leg pain when lying down can be caused by nerve issues that can be due to conditions like physical trauma, lupus, arthritis, sciatica or diabetic neuropathy.

  • Varicose veins — Varicose veins are due to poor circulation and can be common in people who deal with fluid retention issues. These veins mean they aren’t working as well as they should, and pressure over the course of the day can result in aching pain and a heavy feeling in your legs.

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) — PAD involves the narrowing of the arteries in your legs. These arteries are responsible for the supply of blood to your limbs. Leg pain when you’re lying down can be a result of reduced blood flow. 

Treatments for leg pain when lying down

Addressing leg pain when lying down can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, medical interventions and other treatments. Some effective approaches can include:

  • Compression stockings — If your leg pain is a result of varicose veins, compression stockings can help improve blood circulation and reduce any discomfort you’re experiencing.

  • Lifestyle modifications — Adding some lifestyle changes including regular exercise, a balanced diet and making sure you stay adequately hydrated can help alleviate leg pain caused by a variety of factors.

  • Physical therapy Physical therapy can be incredibly beneficial in helping to address leg pain when lying down. A physical therapist can design a personalized treatment program to help address any underlying issues contributing to your pain.

  • Medications — Your health care provider may recommend pain relievers, muscle relaxers or medications for specific conditions like nerve pain. 

How physical therapy can help leg pain when lying down

Physical therapy can be a beneficial treatment to help manage leg pain when lying down. It’s important to help address the symptoms and the underlying causes. Physical therapy can help through:

  • Manual therapyManual therapy is a hands-on approach involving techniques like soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization. These techniques can help reduce muscle tension, improve joint mobility and alleviate pain. They can help improve discomfort from conditions like arthritis or sciatica.

  • Aquatic therapyAquatic therapy can be beneficial thanks to the buoyancy of the water and the lessened impact it can have on the joints. The water provides excellent resistance, enhances muscle strength and is a supportive environment that can allow for an increased range of motion without the same weight-bearing stress experienced on land.
  • Dry needlingDry needling is performed by certified physical therapists who insert thin, sterile needles into trigger points or tight muscles. This technique is intended to help release muscle tension and reduce pain. It can be effective in helping to address myofascial trigger points that can be causing your leg pain. 

Leg pain when lying down can be a frustrating issue with several culprits that could be the underlying issue. It can leave you exhausted and impact your daily life. However, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Through interventions like lifestyle changes, medications and physical therapy, you can find relief from your pain and improve your quality of life. If you’re experiencing persistent leg pain when lying down, see your health care provider and consider physical therapy as part of your treatment plan to help you reclaim your life. 

Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can help you get back to resting easy 

Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can help you alleviate your leg pain when lying down. Our expert team of physical therapists can design a personalized treatment plan that can include a combination of techniques based on your specific needs and the underlying cause of your leg pain. These treatments can help alleviate symptoms and help address the root cause of your pain to help improve your function, mobility and overall well-being.

Call us or request an appointment today so we can start addressing your leg pain together.