Jan 28, 2022
Pain & Injury

Signs and Symptoms of Labral Tear Hip Pain at Night

Signs and Symptoms of Labral Tear Hip Pain at Night

Could you be living with labral tear hip pain at night? If you have hip pain at night, it can really interfere with your quality of sleep. And, if you want to address your hip pain symptoms, the best way to do so is to first determine the root cause.

Your hips are essential and complex parts of your body, and there are many reasons why you could be experiencing hip pain, from minor to more severe.

The type and severity of your hip pain at night can help you narrow down the possible causes. For instance, if you have labral tear hip pain at night you likely have pain manifesting in the groin area - and may even have mistook it for arthritis.

In this article, I am going to break down what a labrum tear is, how to tell if you might have one, and how to adjust your sleep habits to minimize your labral tear hip pain at night.

What is a hip labral tear?

Your hip labrum is specialized cartilage in your hip joint, more specifically inside your hip socket. It helps hold the ball joint in your hip socket.

A healthy hip labrum creates a suction that decreases the force going through the joint and keeps it well protected. However, this suction and protection only occur if you have a labrum that’s fully intact - and there are a number of things that could cause damage to the area.

What causes a labral tear?

Some causes of hip labral tears include:

  • Hip trauma or hip injury (like dislocation)
  • Repetitive hip motions, especially in sports or physically intensive jobs
  • Structural abnormality of the hip (like a shallow hip socket)
  • Tight hip flexor muscles causing unnatural movement of the hip joint

If you have a torn or strained hip labrum, you may also have a tight iliacus muscle. The iliacus is one of the muscles (along with your psoas) that make up your body’s main hip flexors and is located on the inside of your pelvic bone, running very close to the hip joint itself.

anatomy illustration of iliopsoas muscle crossing the hip joint

Irritation to your hip joint in any form, and certainly from a labral tear, can cause your iliopsoas muscles to tighten in an attempt to protect the hip joint. What’s interesting is that some of the symptoms you have with labral tear hip pain at night overlap with symptoms you’d have if you had tight iliopsoas muscles.

In fact, your torn labrum may also be a byproduct of tight iliopsoas muscles. If your hip socket alignment is off because of tight muscles, your labrum will not only be irritated, but far more susceptible to tearing. This is because tight hip flexor muscles pull the hip joint enough to make the socket rub the labrum the wrong way during common day-to-day activities.

Unfortunately, a hip labral tear will never fully heal without surgical treatment. The good news is that you can treat the symptoms and minimize the amount of labral tear hip pain at night.

Releasing the muscle tension creates a healthy environment for the labrum and can help you realign your hip, which in turn reduces labral tear hip pain at night. But how do you know if you are experiencing labral tear hip pain at night? Here are some ways to properly identify it.  

Identifying labral tear hip pain at night

Knowing torn hip labrum symptoms, in general, can help you to identify labral tear hip pain at night. Keep in mind that the way torn hip labrum symptoms present can vary if the tear is an anterior or posterior one.

An anterior tear is located on the front of your hip, which is easier to injure due to the lack of blood vessels in that area. Posterior labral tears are located on the back of your hip. Since there is less motion in the back of your hip joint, the labrum cartilage does not experience as much contact as it does in the front.

So, although I did state that most labral hip tears will cause pain in the groin area, that is more specific to anterior labral tears. If you have a posterior labral tear, you are likely to have more pain in the back of your hip when performing a motion like squatting or sitting.

Pain is not the only symptom of a labrum tear though. Other symptoms of a labrum tear may include:

  • A clicking, locking, or catching sensation when moving the hip joint
  • Limitations when it comes to hip mobility and general range of motion

So, how do you know if you are experiencing labral tear hip pain at night?

First, identify if you have any of the symptoms above throughout your day. Do you only have hip pain when you are in one position for an extended period of time? That could be a sign of a labral tear, and part of the reason why you have labral tear hip pain at night.

Identifying and addressing a labral hip tear is very important because if left untreated, it can lead to osteoarthritis.

Sleeping with labral tear hip pain at night

Diagnosing hip labral pain with a medical professional is one of the best ways to address and treat your labral tear hip pain at night. Most of the time, hip labral tear diagnosis is done with an imaging scan of the hip joint.

Working with a physical therapist, or even deciding to have surgery, can help you as you manage your labral tear hip pain at night.

Hip pain when sleeping is a fairly common issue to have, but how you address that pain and get a good night’s sleep will vary on a case-by-case basis. In general though, you can adjust some sleep habits, environments, and sleep positions to minimize your labral tear hip pain at night.

How your sleep position affects labral tear hip pain at night

We all have a favorite sleeping position, but what if the way that you are sleeping is causing you more hip pain at night?

The reason why labral tear hip pain at night is so common is because when we have a labral tear, and our hip is in the same position for an extended period of time, our labrum has time to react from the trauma of the day. We also have more time to focus on how our hip is feeling because we are not distracted by other activities.

And, if you prefer to sleep on your side, you may be agitating your injury even more. If you have hip pain when sleeping on your side, even if it isn’t due to a hip labral tear, it is likely because of some kind of hip trauma, trigger points or stressors, or improper alignment while sleeping (yes, there’s proper sleep alignment!).

Many of the sleeping positions for hip labral pain will overlap with general sleep positions that help alleviate hip pain. These are adaptable to if you are sleeping alone or if you enjoy falling asleep cuddling your partner.

Just remember that when you are lying on your side, your hip is sitting higher than the rest of your leg, and the pressure applied to your hip by the pull of your knee and leg adds more pressure to an already injured area.

To combat this and raise the rest of your leg to be level with your hip, all you need to do is put a pillow between your legs. It is best to do this lengthwise so the pillow is resting between both your knees and ankles, but you can play with the position that works well for you.

If possible, you should also avoid sleeping with your injured hip on the bottom. Have that hip on top to minimize the pressure put on the hip while you sleep.

Sleeping on your back is not as likely to irritate your labral tear hip pain at night, but it can. One of the best ways to adjust your sleep position is to try and help your iliopsoas muscles relax and keep your hips aligned.

If you are lying on your back, you can take some tension off your hip flexor muscles by putting a pillow or two under your knees. This raises your legs slightly to help the iliopsoas disengage, creating a healthier environment for your labrum.

Other ways to minimize labral tear hip pain at night

Your sleep position can only do so much to help with your labral hip pain at night. If anything, your sleep position will simply minimize your pain to help you fall asleep.

If you are diagnosed with a labrum tear in your hip, then it is best to work closely with your physical therapist or health care provider on a treatment plan that works best for your life and the activities you enjoy.

Although there are various causes of a labral hip tear, the treatment for a labral tear is usually the same across the board. Surgery is the only way to truly fix a hip labral tear, but there are nonsurgical treatments that can help you minimize pain and reduce symptoms as well.

Physical therapy

One of the best long-term treatments for a labral hip tear (that is not surgery) is to go to physical therapy. A physical therapist will come up with an individualized treatment plan that focuses on strength training around the hip and the iliopsoas (what you commonly think of as your hip flexors) to improve pelvic and core stability. They may also recommend stretches and other hip alignment exercises to help you get the best results for your situation.


Depending on the severity of your hip pain at night, a doctor may recommend that you get a local anesthetic fluid injection into your hip joint. These are called intra-articular injections. Most often this method will only be used if no other method works to alleviate your hip pain. A corticosteroid is sometimes added to the injection if the hip pain is extremely severe or if you have other hip problems causing additional pain.


Often before resorting to an injection to reduce pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended. This can be something like aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain. Keep in mind that this should only be seen as a temporary relief, not as a long-term treatment for hip pain, so you do not become too reliant on NSAIDs for general functioning.

Muscle tension release

As we discussed earlier, tight hip flexor muscles can contribute to your labral hip pain at night. The good news is that you can create a nighttime routine that includes a pressure release for your psoas and iliacus muscles. You can also do this with your physical therapist, but it would not enable you to do it every night, which is what you should aim for eventually for the best results.

How do you do a successful muscle release for your hip flexors on your own?

The location of the psoas and iliacus muscles makes it a bit difficult to release by yourself, and that is why I invented the Hip Hook. The Hip Hook is designed to apply prolonged pressure to both your psoas and iliacus muscles to release tightness.

This is important because anytime you have a hip injury, like a labral tear, your iliopsoas muscle tightens in an attempt to protect the hip joint. This may seem good in theory, but in reality, this can cause more damage as your tight muscles pull your hip further out of alignment.

Performing a muscle release on both sides of your hip before bed is one effective way to reduce your labral tear hip pain at night - and it can be done in less than 10 minutes. Strengthening the other surrounding muscles, such as the glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles can be an effective supplement to help support your hips and pelvis in a better alignment.

Get a good night’s sleep again

Hopefully by now, you have a good idea if you are truly suffering from labral tear hip pain at night (or if you think it might be something else). And, if you are, you now have some great tools to combat that nighttime pain and discomfort.

Whether it’s adjusting your sleeping position, booking a physical therapy appointment, buying a Hip Hook for at-home muscle release, contacting your doctor to see if surgery is your best option, or all of the above, you have many avenues to try to reduce your discomfort at night and wake up feeling well-rested.

Frequently asked questions about sleeping with a labral tear

How do you sleep with a torn hip labrum?

To minimize the pain and discomfort of a torn hip labrum when sleeping, avoid sleeping with the affected hip on the bottom if you are a side-sleeper. Even with the affected hip on the top, you may further alleviate some pressure by sleeping with a pillow between your legs.

You may also try sleeping on your back, which helps to avoid placing any pressure directly on your painful hip. For added comfort and relief, back sleepers with a torn hip labrum can try placing a pillow under their knees to help their hip flexor muscles relax, which also reduces compression in the hip.

How do you fix a torn hip labrum?

A torn hip labrum can be 100% fixed only through a surgical procedure. However, not all cases truly require surgery and there are many ways to manage this kind of injury to minimize pain and discomfort. Non-surgical options include working with a physical therapist to improve the way your surrounding muscles support your hips and pelvis.

This may include the use of different corrective stretches and exercises. Applying pressure to help release tight muscles that are affecting your hip (such as your hip flexor muscles) can also decrease the compression of the hip joint, supporting an increased range of motion and reduction of pain.