Knee Pain When Waking Up On My Side
A little background on my knee injury: In the spring of this year, I remember doing forward lunges in my leg workouts one day. I obviously overdid it, and my knees were extra sore the next few days. After that, I remember I couldn't sit Indian-style on my couch because the bending of my knees would eventually cause a nagging sharp pain in my right knee cap. I can't recall having knee injuries prior to this, although I might've experienced some minor knee injuries playing basketball the year before. A few weeks after this mishap in the spring, I was running regularly, between 1-3 miles, 2 to 3 times a week. While running, there was an annoying discomfort in the same area (right knee cap, just left of center) whenever I put pressure on my right knee. I'd rest it for a couple days, then go back to running when I thought my knee was fine.
On July 4th (no knee pain for about a month), I went running with a friend along a path through a forest preserve. After about a mile, the path veered up a steep incline, then over a bridge, and down another steep hill at about a 45 degree angle. Looking back in retrospect, this had to have been bad on my knees.. hot sunny day, tired knees after a mile, and running straight down a steep hill which twisted to the right. After the run, I felt fine, no discomfort in my knees at all.
Then that night, I woke up in the middle of the night with an inflamed right knee cap. I tried walking to the bathroom, but whenever I put pressure on my right knee, it was terribly painful. I never went to the doctor, because I didn't have health insurance. It took a little over a week for the inflammation to go down, and about 2 weeks before I could walk pain-free without a limp. Fast forward to now: most days I could easily forget about my knee injury, because there isn't any pain except when I turn sharply when I'm walking. I'm now walking on the treadmill for 1.5 miles 3 times a week without any pain.
Prior to this month, whenever I would try to run, it would only take a minute before the pain came; running put extra pressure on my knee. Now I can run about 5 minutes without any pain. That's the only way (during the day) I experience any kind of pain. Night time is a different story. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, particularly on my left side with my right leg resting on top of my left leg, the pain in my right knee is very noticeable. The pain isn't excruciating, it's just a sharp pain that won't go away until I manage to roll over and lay on my back.. or any other position. If I wake up on my left side and I experience this pain, the next day my knee is noticeably sore. If I wake up on my right side, it's just a dull pain, not nearly as bad. Any other position, and I'm fine.
My question is, what could this be, and am I being unrealistically optimistic in thinking that my knee is healing slowly but surely? If I see a doctor without health insurance, how much would the visit cost? Why does it hurt only if I wake up on my side? And how can I prevent myself from rolling over to my side when I'm half asleep, since that's my favorite side to sleep on? By the way, it takes quite a while sleeping on my side to notice the pain.. maybe 30 minutes or longer. So I can roll over to my side when I'm half asleep and lay in that position in total comfort until I fall asleep. Then when I wake up, there's that awful pain. Any ideas or advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance!