Chiropractor Chandler AZ
Hip pain can occur from a variety of causes including arthritis, bursitis, hernia, labral tear, tendonitis or tendonosis of muscles, tendons and ligaments in the area or pinched nerves. While some causes of hip pain such as hip fractures, bursitis and arthritis have to do with structures within the hip joint, others, such as sciatica originate in the spine or other parts of the body.
On a related note, while certain types of hip injuries are the result of a traumatic event (e.g. hip fracture), many others result from chronic degeneration of the hip joint that occurs as part of the aging process, and can be exacerbated by biomechanical problems such including overpronation (excessive rolling in of the ankles), leg length discrepancies, poor posture and muscle imbalances.
Although injuries such as hip fractures and hernias require surgical repair, many chronic conditions can be treated successfully with non-invasive techniques including chiropractic adjustment, IV cold laser, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, massage and physiotherapy. The best combination of treatments for any particular disorder depends on your symptoms, how long they have lasted and of course, the underlying cause.
First, a little anatomy: the hip is a ball-in-socket joint consisting of the upper part of the femur (leg bone) and the acetabulum (the hip socket). The ball-in-socket design gives your hips their tremendous mobility, enabling you to move your legs forward and backwards, to abduct (move the leg away from the body), adduct (move it towards the center of the body), and rotate the leg internally and externally. Numerous muscles, tendons and ligaments attach within the hip structure to enable you to do this.
In addition, a labrum, which is a cartilaginous ring, surrounds the joint to keep the head of the femur properly positioned within the socket. Bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs within the hip joint, act as cushions that enable the head of the femur to move around inside the socket more easily.
Two of the most common causes of hip pain are arthritis and bursitis. Osteoarthritis is most common: the “wear and tear” form of arthritis that occurs with age. As cartilage within the hip joint wears down, joint spaces narrow and bone spurs can develop within the joint. Although there is no “cure” for osteoarthritis outside of hip replacement, a treatment called Class IV cold laser can decrease pain and inflammation in the area.
The technology takes advantage of an “optical window,” due to reduced tissue absorption of its unique wavelengths and frequencies, that enables the laser beam to turn off inflammatory factors that contribute to chronic swelling in soft tissue injuries. By reducing inflammation, the cold laser treatments also reduce pain.
At the same time, physiotherapy can help you to make the most of the mobility you have by strengthening muscles in the area through corrective exercise.
Bursitis is an inflammation of one or more bursa within the hip joint. It can feel like a deep ache or produce very sharp, stabbing pain. Since this condition usually results from inflammation in the joint, we will often use a combination of icing and cold laser treatments to reduce the pain and inflammation. Sometimes the condition can be brought on by tightness in muscles or fascia, especially in the big upper leg muscles, or hip flexor muscles or iliotibial band: a band of fascia that runs down the side of the leg that can become chronically tight.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is an ideal, non-invasive treatment for this type of injury. The technology is similar to that used to break up kidney stones, except that in this case, a percussive instrument is placed directly on the skin to break up fascial adhesions and reduce muscle tightness. Most patients don’t find this treatment to be uncomfortable (some have reported a massaging effect), and it can be a quick, effective way to address the underlying cause of bursitis.
As mentioned earlier, there are times when pain felt in the hip doesn’t originate there. Herniated disks and nerve root compression can both cause pain that radiates towards the hips. Sciatic nerve pain is a particularly debilitating condition that occurs when one or both of the sciatic nerves that travel from the sacrum through the hips and down the backs of the legs become inflamed.
All of the above injuries involve various parts of the spine, and as such, chiropractic adjustments can be particularly effective in controlling the pain they produce. There are many different types of chiropractic treatments, including active traction table, decompression, drop table, activator, electric activator and flexion distraction. Once again, the best type of treatment will depend on the nature of the injury.
Cold laser, described above can also improve sciatic nerve pain by reducing inflammation and in some cases, helping to repair damaged nerves.
Sometimes pain in the hips originates in the feet, or can be due to a leg length discrepancy. For example, a person who has very flat feet may tend to overpronate, defined as the ankles rolling in more than 5 degrees when the person walks or runs. Biomechanical problems that start in the feet tend to travel up the legs, due to what’s known as a kinetic chain of movement. The “fix” in this case may be as simple as more supportive footwear.
Some individuals have leg length discrepancies from birth that are mild enough to ignore for the greater parts of their lives. However changes that occur with aging can result in altered gait patterns that eventually lead to hip pain. In this case, physiotherapy is the best way to address the problem, with stretching to improve range of motion, and strengthening of muscles that may have become inhibited over time.
Postural abnormalities are a common cause of hip pain. These can result from poor ergonomics in the work environment, changes in the spine such as kyphosis (forward curvature of the thoracic spine that increases with age), tight hip flexors, or weak adductor muscles in the legs.
All of these problems can be corrected with a good physiotherapy program for strengthening the core muscles and correcting muscle imbalances.
If you are experiencing hip pain that interferes with activities of daily living or perhaps some of the recreational activities you enjoy, we encourage you to call our Chandler, Arizona office at (480) 812-1800 to schedule an evaluation. We look forward to working with you on a personalized program to get you up and moving- pain free- again.