Most hip pain occurs because of a specific type of injury, for example if you’ve overdone things when exercising. This pain is usually caused by strained or inflamed soft tissues, your tendons, ligaments, muscles, joint capsule and fascia, it commonly resolves within a few days. Long-term hip pain is generally caused by the specific condition Osteoarthritis.

Pain from the hip joint may be felt in the groin, down the frontal aspect of the leg and, also in the knee. Sometimes knee pain is the only sign of a hip problem. This is called referred pain, and it’s fairly common. Hip pain is also often felt in the corresponding buttock (and is very similar (and often misdiagnosed) as pain in the lower back) or “Piriformis Syndrome”.

Most cases of minor hip pain will get better on their own or with simple self-help treatments. If the pain is extremely bad or if it hasn’t improved with painkillers after two weeks then you should see your doctor .

There isn’t a cure for osteoarthritis, but there is a lot you can do to slow down its progression, reduce the pain you feel and maintain or improve hip function.  If you’re overweight or obese then losing weight can be particularly helpful.

You can often relieve pain with over-the-counter analgesics such as paracetamol or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), including Ibuprofen and Voltarol. But if there’s one prescription an individual with osteoarthritis should take every day, and that is EXERCISE.  Regular exercise strengthens the muscles and improves flexibility of the hip joint and body generally and also helps your balance.  The good news is that exercise helps to reduce pain and stiffness and also improves overall health.  In addition, manual therapy, in form of Chiropractic (scientifically proven to help osteoarthritis) Sports and/or Remedial massage, should be combined with your exercise therapy. Combining manual therapy with exercise has been shown to significantly improve results over exercise-based therapy alone.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease occuring as we get older, it’s wear and tear in the joints and can affect any joint.causing the joint cartilage to break down. This allows the bones to rub together, it can result in bone spurs, pain and stiffness,  If you have osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, the pain may prevent you from exercising. A lack of exercise may even contribute to osteoarthritis and muscle atrophy.  Studies have shown that joint immobilisation can cause early arthritic changes and weak muscles surrounding joints can cause instability and poor joint support.  Regular physical activity can help strengthen muscles, improve balance, and make your hip joints more stable.

The basic features of the exercise program are activities that improve muscle strength, flexibility and endurance.  Adding a moderate amount of activity each day will improve your overall health and well-being.

Low Impact Exercises

When starting an exercise program, it’s always best to start slowly. Some examples of low-impact, non-strenuous exercise are shown below:

Walking: Walking at a comfortable pace is an excellent low impact exercise.  If you have balance problems use a treadmill which allows you to hold on to the rails enabling you to walk securely.

Stationary Bike: Using a stationary bike on an low setting will allow you to slowly build your strength. Using the bike in your home is safe allowing you to avoid traffic and stop when you feel tired or need a break.

Water Exercises: Freestyle swimming provides an excellent general physical workout, whilst swimming breast stroke really exercises your hips.  Walking in water up to your waist lightens the load on your joints by as much as 50 percent.  Performing water aerobics in water up to your chest decreases the impact on your joints by 75 percent, for eg. running on the spot in water is very good for your hips and also a great exercise for your heart and lungs.

Yoga: Yoga is great for improving the flexibility of your joints, strengthening your muscles, and lessening your joint pain. A few yoga positions are not good for your hips, so ask your instructor advice on which positions not to do.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

Strong muscles can take pressure off your hip joints and help to stabilise and support them.  Examples of muscle strengthening exercises include:

Chair Stand

Set a chair against the wall and sit towards the front of the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Recline back with arms crossed and hands on your shoulders. With your head, neck, and back straight, bring your upper body forward gently raising to a standing position. Reverse the action returning to your original seated position. Repeat this up to six times, slowly building your strength up to 20 repetitions.

image showing a chair stand

Bridge

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, place your palms down near your hips. With a straight back, lift your buttocks up as high as possible. Use your hands for balance. Then lower yourself back to the floor. Do four to six repetitions, increase gradually up to 20 repetitions.

image showing a Pilates bridge

Hip Extension

Using the back of a chair to balance yourself, bend forward and lift your right leg straight behind you. Lift the leg as high as possible without bending your knee. After holding the position briefly, lower the leg slowly. Repeat with your left leg and try to complete this four to six times, increase gradually up to 20 times.

image showing a hip extension exercise

Inner Thigh Stretch

Sit with knees bent and the have the soles of your feet touching. Hold your shins or ankles with your hands, bend your upper body forward slowly. Use your elbows to gently press your knees down.  Hold for about 20 to 30 seconds.

image showing a lady performing an inner thigh stretch

Hip and Low Back Stretch

Lie down on your back with legs extended. With your neck on the floor, turn your chin toward your chest. Pull your knees up and hold them with your hands, pulling your knees toward your shoulders as far as they will comfortably go, about 85% of max.

image showing knees to chest exercise at our plymouth chiropractic clinic

Double Hip Rotation

Lie down on your back, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your shoulders on the floor, slowly lower your knees to one side then the other, repeat 10 times then do again while turning your head to the opposite side.

image showing spine and hip rotation

Blog Sources:

●    Arthritis – Physical Activity for Arthritis (2011, December 28). U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 6, 2012 from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_overview.htm

●    Exercise: Rx for overcoming osteoarthritis (2007, October). The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Retrieved November 6, 2012 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Exercise-Rx-overcoming-osteoarthritis.shtml

●    Fitness (n.d.). Arthritis Today, Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 6, 2012 from http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/index.php

●    Practical Tips for Osteoarthritis of the Hip (2010). American Arthritis Society. Retrieved November 6, 2012 from http://www.americanarthritis.org/portal/loader.php?seite=practical_tips_for_osteoarthritis_of_the_hip_2