Hip joint pain is commonly expressed with pain in the front of the hip as a result of injury and/or abnormal stress to the hip joint. Hip joint pain may be a result of arthritis, trauma, repeated motions causing abnormal stress, obesity, and not limited to congenital malformation or knee and foot mechanics. This pain will limit a persons function and ability to participate in daily activities and leisure/recreational activities.
Pain in the hip joint can be a result of a number of different factors. Joint pain may be felt with squatting, running/jogging, going up or down stairs, bending/leaning over to pick up items from the floor or child. Causes of hip joint pain can be a variety of factors: muscle weakness, impingement, arthritis, trauma, repeated movements producing abnormal stress, and even obesity. This factors can be identified and treated to restore functional ability by a skilled physical therapist.
Hip joint problems include labral tears, arthritic changes, hip impingement syndrome, and hip capsular tightness. Labral tears arise either from traumatic injuries or repetitive use activities like in running, soccer or golf. Arthritic changes occur when prior trauma, genetic predisposition, or obesity cause early wear on the bony surfaces. Symptoms of this wear may appear as early as 50 years old. Hip impingement syndrome develops from too much friction when the hip joint ball rubs the femur against the socket. Hip capsular tightness often occurs as a secondary pathology to one of the above described conditions.
Hip pain is mostly felt in the front of the hip with possible radiating pain to the groin region. This pain may be sharp in nature or dull depending on the type of injury. Those experiencing pain in the hip may change the way in which they walk to decrease the pain and to compensate for decreased mobility, may feel very stiff or loose in the hip.
Complaints of pain when walking, squatting, running/jogging or going from sit to stand. Pain may come on with leaning over to pick something up from the floor or lift a child. Pain may also be felt at rest after prolonged sitting or laying or even may have pain crossing legs while seated. This pain may be local in the front of the hip or may travel to the groin depending on cause and severity of the injury.
Pain in the groin or down the front of the thigh as far as the knee may indicate a problem in the hip joint. Getting in or out of car, squatting or getting up from sitting may cause the pain to flare.
Hip joint pain is diagnosed during a thorough physical therapy evaluation taking into consideration all reports of pain and causative factors that reproduce said pain. Special testing will help confirm a therapist of what structures in the hip are involved ranging from muscle, joint capsule, joint surfaces to the labrum of the hip. Patients can access a physical therapy directly or through a referral from a medical provider.
After a detailed initial evaluation by a Results Physiotherapist, treatment will begin to eliminate abnormal stresses caused by muscle imbalances, altered joint/gait mechanics and to decrease pain to restore functional ability. A hands on approach with manual therapy will allow joint mechanics to be restored along with muscle tone/function to reset to be follow with specific exercise to support and sustain newly restored functional of the hip.
Trigger point dry needling is also a very effective approach to support manual therapy to help reset muscle function. Common modality (ice, moist heat, electrical simulation) can also be and effective adjunct to treatment to decrease pain and assist in restoring functional ability. A typical recovery can be 3-4 weeks with specific and detailed treatments focusing on education to support all manual therapy and exercise during this time to restore full prior levels of function.
In most cases, physical therapy is the first line of treatment for hip joint problems, to help people avoid surgery. Range of motion and stretching exercises coupled with gentle joint distraction by hand can restore mobility. As movement improves, a progressive course of strengthening exercises will restore good muscle balance around the hip. Anti-inflammatory or steroid medication can assist this conservative treatment and either delay or eliminate the need for surgical intervention.
Prevention of hip joint pain will first to identify the cause and eliminate/reduce that factor while maintaining strong hip and core muscles. This will be key in maintaining an active lifestyle performing all daily and leisure/recreational activities as desired.
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