Are you dealing with hip pain and wondering what could be causing it?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll address some of the most pressing questions you may have about hip pain. We’ll delve into the different factors that can contribute to discomfort and discuss when it’s advisable to seek medical attention.
You may be surprised to discover the various conditions and injuries that can lead to hip pain. We’ll also debunk common misconceptions about this issue and provide tips on preventing future pain.
We understand the importance of finding relief from your discomfort. That’s why we’ll explore various treatments and strategies for managing hip pain, including both rest and movement. Additionally, we’ll offer advice on expediting the recovery process.
Moreover, we’ll share some of the most effective exercises and stretches for alleviating hip pain. With the right techniques, you can address your discomfort and strive towards a healthier, pain-free hip.
If you’ve been experiencing hip pain for more than two weeks or are dealing with severe pain, it’s crucial to consult with a physiotherapist. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions and determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific needs. Book a free assessment with one of our physiotherapists online, or continue reading to learn more about how you can alleviate your own hip pain.
In this blog we’ll be looking at the following:
What are the causes of hip pain?
If you’re dealing with hip pain, it’s crucial to understand that the most common type is muscular pain. You may notice tightness, stiffness, and discomfort in your hip, which can be attributed to factors like a restless night’s sleep or a sudden increase in physical activity.
It’s important to recognize that even without an injury or tissue damage, lifestyle factors such as stress, limited physical activity, poor sleep, mood, or beliefs can contribute to this type of pain.
While other potential causes like fractures or avascular necrosis are less likely, it’s still essential to rule them out for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
If you’re curious to learn more about your pain and how to effectively manage it, we highly recommend booking a FREE ASSESSMENT ONLINE with one of our experienced physiotherapists. They can provide valuable insights into your symptoms and create a tailored treatment plan to help your hip feel its absolute best.
When should I worry about my hip pain?
If you’re dealing with hip pain, rest assured that it’s usually treatable and nothing to overly worry about. However it’s important to be aware of certain symptoms that may indicate the need for medical attention.
If you’ve had a history of malignancy, are experiencing infective symptoms like fever, suddenly developed severe pain after a fall or injury, or are experiencing hip stiffness along with difficulty using the toilet, it’s advised to seek a medical assessment from NHS 24 by dialing 111.
Additionally, if you’re experiencing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs, have a history of inflammatory disease (especially if you’re on immunosuppressants), or notice abnormalities in sensation or power in your arms or legs, it’s crucial to get checked out as soon as possible.
For patients who are under 18 or over 55 years old with new-onset symptoms, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment with your GP.
However, if you don’t have any of these red flags, we’re here to assist you in finding ways to alleviate your hip pain.
Why is your hip in pain?
When managing hip pain, it’s essential for you to understand the nature of pain itself. Remember that pain is personal, normal, and always valid.
Your brain perceives pain as a natural response to potential harm or danger, functioning as an alarm system. Interestingly, pain can arise even in the absence of apparent tissue damage, and its intensity isn’t always proportional to the actual injury. The context surrounding pain plays a significant role in how it is perceived.
Instead of viewing your body as a machine in need of repair, think of it more like an orchestra, with each movement acting as a different instrument. To restore optimal function within this orchestra, the goal is to fine-tune the instrument when experiencing pain or discomfort.
It’s important to distinguish between pain and discomfort during the recovery process from an injury. Gradual stress is necessary to enhance the body’s functionality, even if it brings about some discomfort.
Resting the painful area may seem like the right approach, but it can actually impede the healing process. Instead, gradual stress on the tissues is needed to promote adaptation and strength.
In the following sections, we’ll delve into how you can effectively apply this approach to manage your hip pain.
Hip pain myths you need to know
It’s completely understandable if you’ve bought into old hip myths that were established before we had a better understanding of the issue. However, relying on these myths can create unnecessary fear and foster a sense of dependence on others to solve the problem.
The good news is that with a better understanding of your hip health, you have the power to address the issue on your own. This not only saves you time and money but also improves your overall quality of life. So, don’t hesitate to educate yourself and take control of your own hip health journey.
Myth #1: Your hip hurts because you have “poor posture”
If you’re dealing with hip pain, it’s natural to wonder if your posture could be the culprit.But did you know that many professionals still believe in this myth? While adjusting your posture may provide temporary relief, it can also create unnecessary fear of certain activities and prolong your symptoms until you receive treatments that actually work in the long run.
Contrary to what you may have been told, several studies have debunked the idea that hip posture, or any posture for that matter, is directly linked to pain (1). People with what some consider “terrible posture” often experience no pain, while those with “good posture” may suffer from chronic pain.
To help you grasp this concept better, we have a video featuring Robert, one of our stroke survivors, who walks with a rounded upper hip posture (known as kyphotic posture) that many would consider suboptimal. However, Robert is pain-free and able to complete everyday tasks within the limitations of his stroke.
Just think about being asked to stand at attention like a soldier with a “perfect” posture for hours on end. You would likely feel achy and sore, if not more so, than if you sat at your desk for hours. Research also indicates that changing your workstation and sitting position has little to no impact on whether you develop hip pain (2). And even if you already have hip pain, it won’t expedite your recovery.
In essence, the worst posture is the one you maintain for an extended period of time. So, don’t blame your posture for your hip pain. Instead, focus on your activity levels (like the number of steps you take) and explore other effective treatments to alleviate your symptoms.
Myth #2: Your hip hurts because it’s out of alignment and needs manipulating or mobilizing to put it back.
If you’ve been thinking about cracking or manipulating your joints to find relief from hip pain, it’s important to understand that any temporary changes in symptoms are unlikely to address the root cause of the issue. Despite what you may have heard, poor hip posture and alignment aren’t strongly linked to hip pain.
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis, which looked at 47 randomized trials and included over 4000 participants, found joint manipulation or mobilization alone can only provide immediate or short-term pain relief that doesn’t last in the long run (3).
Instead of relying solely on manipulation, it’s crucial to tackle the underlying cause of your hip pain by developing healthy habits and seeking expert advice. Factors such as poor physical activity routines, stress, lack of sleep, and limiting beliefs can contribute to your pain.
So, while cracking your joints may provide momentary satisfaction, it’s not a lasting solution for managing hip pain. If you want to prevent the recurrence of hip pain, focus on cultivating healthy habits and seeking professional guidance to effectively manage your discomfort and enhance your overall quality of life.
Myth #3: Your hip hurts because you’re getting old and it’s a sign of arthritis from wear and tear.
If you’re in your middle age and dealing with hip pain, it’s common to assume that it’s just a normal part of getting older and that relying on medication is the only way to manage the discomfort and decline in function. But let me tell you, this assumption is both unhelpful for your recovery and completely untrue.
Here’s the thing: hip pain can affect anyone, regardless of their age. It’s not necessarily caused by wear and tear, and many young individuals can experience hip pain while some older adults may not. In fact, even people with hip arthritis can have minimal pain despite significant joint deformities.
According to a study conducted in 2015 looking at the spine, 37% of 20-year-olds had spine degeneration without experiencing any back pain, while a staggering 96% of 80-year-olds had spine degeneration without pain (4). Another study found no difference in imaging findings between those with severe pain compared to those with mild pain (5). This indicates that most changes that occur in the body as we age, such as disc degeneration, are like internal wrinkles or grey hairs – natural and painless processes.
Getting a scan of your hip won’t provide you with helpful information unless you exhibit any of the red flags we’ve discussed earlier. The scan won’t reveal why your hip is painful or offer any groundbreaking insights. Instead, the best approach to managing hip pain lies in receiving advice, education, and engaging in movement-based strategies.
Remember, age doesn’t define your experience with hip pain. Seek the right guidance, empower yourself with knowledge, and prioritize movement as the ultimate medicine for your hip discomfort.
Myth #4: “I don’t want to mask the pain with tablets”
If you’re dealing with hip pain, you may have reservations about taking painkillers. Perhaps you’re worried that they might mask the pain or even exacerbate it if you move your hip too much. On the other hand, some individuals may choose to avoid painkillers on principle.
But let me assure you, taking short-term painkillers under the guidance of a GP or pharmacist can actually support a speedier recovery and facilitate exercise. This is because acute hip pain often stems from heightened sensitivity in the hip, rather than actual damage. It’s important to remember that pain doesn’t always indicate harm.
By incorporating painkillers into your treatment plan, you can gradually improve your hip mobility and break the cycle of pain, limited movement, stiffness, and sensitivity. So, don’t hesitate to have a conversation with your doctor about pain management options that can aid in your faster recovery and enable you to resume your daily activities with greater ease.
How do you treat hip pain?
If you’re dealing with hip pain and seeking a short-term solution, consider trying out a Sports Massage. Not only can it provide relief from pain, but it can also boost your mood, strengthen your immune system, and reduce stress levels. Additionally, your massage therapist can guide you through exercises mentioned in this blog to help alleviate any fear you may have regarding movement.
However, if you’re in search of a more long-lasting solution, the Treatment Pyramid outlined below is the way to go. The first step involves finding a skilled Physiotherapist who can educate you about your condition, help alleviate your fear of movement, and create a personalised rehabilitation plan tailored to your specific needs.
The next step involves engaging in general movement therapy, which has been proven effective in relieving muscle pain for most individuals (6). By dedicating at least 150 minutes per week to moderate-intensity exercise, including 30 minutes of progressive resistance training on two separate days, you can make a significant difference!
Don’t worry if you’re not currently getting enough physical activity – even a 5-minute walk each day can be beneficial! Increasing your physical activity can enhance your physical and mental resilience to movement and activity through bioplasticity. This means that your hip tissue can adapt and improve with movement, ultimately reducing pain and the risk of injury or discomfort.
Think of your physical capacity as a cup, and your daily physical movements and mental stressors as the liquid filling it up. The larger your cup, the more stress your hip and brain can handle. This reduces the likelihood of experiencing pain and discomfort. However, simply resting won’t resolve the issue. Instead, we need to intelligently stress your tissues in order to initiate efficient improvement in function and symptoms.
This is where the Goldilocks principle of rehabilitation comes into play. Resting your hip and relying on a hip brace won’t be helpful; in fact, it can weaken your muscles and worsen your symptoms.
On the other hand, excessive movement can exacerbate your symptoms and prolong your recovery. Stay tuned to learn more about finding the right balance of stress for optimal results.
Is it better to rest or move hip pain?
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of stress, it’s time to leverage it to your advantage when it comes to managing hip pain.
By applying just the right amount of stress to your hip, you create small micro-traumas that send signals to your brain and central nervous system, prompting them to improve your range of motion and stress tolerance.
Achieving this requires a combination of proper sleep and effective stress management techniques. When these factors align, your body can enter a state of super-compensation, where it becomes stronger and more resilient than ever before – just like what you see in the super-compensation graph provided.
By consistently challenging your hip with the appropriate level of stress and allowing adequate recovery time, you can expand the size of your “cup” of physical capacity. This expansion leads to improved symptoms and enhanced hip function.
This phenomenon is known as bioplasticity, and it serves as a powerful tool for recovery. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and avoid going overboard. Too much stress, whether it stems from mental or physical sources, can actually exacerbate your hip pain and increase muscle tension.
So, always remember to find that sweet spot between stress and recovery in order to achieve optimal results.
How long does hip pain take to heal?
It’s essential to keep in mind that not everyone who experiences hip pain will find complete resolution of their symptoms and disability. However, by following a well-structured rehabilitation plan, you can greatly enhance your chances of improving painful symptoms and returning to normal levels of function.
It’s important to acknowledge that recovering from hip pain often involves a journey with its fair share of ups and downs. The speed of your recovery will depend on various factors, including the quality of advice and education you receive, your adherence to recommended treatments, and your levels of fear and catastrophizing.
To avoid setting unrealistic expectations, it’s best to view your rehabilitation as a series of milestones rather than strict timelines. Our Hip Physio program adopts this approach, providing a structured framework that takes you through each stage of recovery at a pace that suits you.
Unfortunately, there is no magic solution or quick fix for hip pain. While treatments like acupuncture or dry needling may offer immediate relief for some individuals, their effects tend to be short-lived, necessitating repeated sessions. This can quickly become costly and impede long-term recovery.
In the following section, we will outline our most effective mobility and strength treatments that have shown long-term success for individuals with hip pain.
What are the best exercises to get rid of hip pain?
We’ve handpicked the exercises below based on the latest scientific research and our own experience working with patients dealing with hip pain (7). These dynamic strengthening and mobility protocols are specifically designed to enhance your body’s physical capacity.
It’s important to note that the most effective rehab exercises for you are often the ones that challenge you and may feel uncomfortable. For optimal results, we recommend performing each exercise at least twice a day. Begin with 5 repetitions and gradually increase to 15 reps as you feel comfortable. Keep in mind that experiencing slight discomfort (up to a 5 out of 10 pain level) is normal and even beneficial.
However, if the pain level exceeds a 6 out of 10, it’s best to ease off.
Once you can comfortably complete 15 repetitions of level 1 exercises, move on to level 2, and so forth. Remember to exhale as you move into discomfort, which will aid in relaxation and gradual improvement in range of motion while alleviating symptoms.
With patience and consistency, you’ll be well on your way to recovery in no time!
If you’re currently dealing with hip pain, taking action and seeking help is crucial. Our complimentary online hip physiotherapy assessment is an excellent starting point.
By incorporating scientifically-based exercises that target the enhancement of your body’s physical capacity, you can gradually build strength and improve mobility, resulting in reduced pain and overall improved health.
And for personalized guidance and support in your journey to hip pain relief, consider enlisting the help of a qualified personal trainer specializing in rehabilitation. They can tailor a program to your specific needs, ensuring a safe and effective recovery.
So don’t delay any longer – explore our FREE ONLINE HIP PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSESSMENT today and take the initial step towards a future free from pain.