Managing Hip Pain With Physical Therapy
Joint pain is extremely common. In one national health survey, joint pain of some type during the past month was reported by about 30 percent of adults surveyed. Hip pain comprised seven percent of that reported pain. Hip pain, which results from a wide variety of causes, tends to occur most often in both the young (under age 15) and older (over age 45) population.
What is Hip Pain and Its Causes?
The hip joint, where the bone of the thigh meets the pelvic bone, is the largest joint in the body. Its ball-and-socket structure allows it to fit together in a way that is mechanically efficient for fluid movement. In addition, it is well-cushioned by cartilage that provides protection and support.
However, despite the protection and efficiency offered by the anatomy of the hip joint, it is not without its limits. With use and age, or injury, damage can occur to the cartilage, muscles or tendons surrounding the hip joint. Arthritis is common; bones can also break. Any or all of these causes can result in hip pain.
Hip pain can be felt in any of the following areas:
- Outside of the hip joint
- Inside of the hip joint
Often, back pain can radiate to the hip as well.
Causes of Hip Pain
There are a number of conditions that can result in hip pain. Below are just a few of them:
- Arthritis-both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis lead to inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage of the hip joint
- Muscle strains-repeated activity or injury can create strains on the muscles that support the hip joint
- Tendinitis-stress from overuse can cause inflammation of the tendons
- Bursitis-inflammation can be caused by stress on the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs within the joint that cushion against friction
- Hernias– hernias can cause pain not only in the area in which they occur, but the pain may radiate. In addition to the back and leg, that pain may radiate to the hip. This is particularly true of femoral hernias, which are located near the hip bone.
- Sciatica-irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs in the low back area and down the leg(s) can result in hip pain
- Fractures-while bones can break from trauma; hip fractures are often the result of weakened bones as we age. This results in hip pain.
Physical Therapy for Hip Pain
The first step in evaluating hip pain is a consultation with a doctor. Based on that person’s diagnosis and recommendations, they may find assistance and relief from physical therapy.
Physical therapy can serve an important role in managing hip pain, whether it be for recovery, or the goal of prevention of further pain. In addition to managing symptoms, it can provide functionality through improved strength and range of motion.
An appointment with the physical therapist begins with an evaluation, including past medical history and the details of the hip pain. Following this analysis, the physical therapist will examine the patient via palpitation (touch) of the affected area to feel for the source of pain or abnormalities. He or she may test for strength, flexibility or range of motion. The patient may undergo functional tests, such as being observed walking, climbing and even running to detect the impact of pain on movement.
A physical therapist employs various treatment modalities. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Ice, which can reduce inflammation
- Heat, when indicated (such as for arthritis of the hip) can soothe the pain
- Manual therapy, such as massage, stretching and exercise, is one of the foundations of treatment
- Exercise prescription, to be done at home or a facility (gym or physical therapy space). These exercises are gentle, low-impact and meant to restore mobility and strength to the hip, as well as enhance blood flow to aid in healing.
Spinal Rehabilitation and Wellness Center are your experts in physical therapy. Our facilities include state-of-the-art equipment, and our certified physical therapists provide personalized care customized to your individual situation, including the cause and type of your hip pain. Book an appointment today at our Dumont location.