The hip is that part of the body that absorbs a lot of repetitive motion as well as extensive amounts of wear and tear. It is composed of the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint that connects your lower extremities to the rest of the body. Without this structure, you simply lose the ability to carry your own upper body weight.
In some cases, the cartilage of the hip joints can get damaged because of repetitive motion and wear and tear. The tendons and muscles that surround the joint can also be damaged because of overuse or muscle fatigue. The bone itself can get fractured when you have a bad fall. All of these can lead to significant hip pain.
While medical management of hip pain will call for the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers as well as other types of analgesic medications depending on the severity of the pain experienced, some would prefer consulting the services of physiotherapists like those at the Top Middle Park physiotherapy clinic establishments to give them not only relief from pain but, more importantly, the ability to perform their activities of daily living that had been severely hampered by their immobility.
Causes of Hip Pain
While hip pain may originate from a variety of disease conditions, the more common causes of hip pain include arthritis, injuries, pinched nerves, and cancer, although other causes may also contribute to the development of pain in the hip.
All forms of arthritis that develops at or within the area of the hip joint can produce significant amounts of gnawing pain. Fracture of the hip bone will produce an excruciating type of pain while bursitis, inguinal hernia, tendinitis, dislocation, and sprains and strains will produce varying degrees of moderate to severe hip pain.
No matter what the cause, the end result will always be immobility and loss of function in the hip joint. Technically, this translates to problems in walking, running, or even standing as the stress on the hip joint will only aggravate the pain being experienced.
General Approach to the Management of Hip Pain
Pain management has always been symptomatic. The primary concern of health professionals is in the alleviation of the pain experience and not necessarily the cause of the pain. This is because no amount of intervention directed towards the cause will even be sufficient if the patient is in extreme pain. This is why pain must be controlled first before doctors and other healthcare professionals can begin to work on the cause.
Depending on the severity of the pain, analgesics may be prescribed in varying doses. For severe pain, narcotic analgesics as well as tranquilizers may be administered just to calm the patient and relieve him of his symptoms. For mild to moderate pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can be given as well as aspirin and acetaminophen.
Physical Therapy as Management
Physical therapy has been proven to be effective in alleviating some form of hip pain, especially those that are of mild to moderate intensity. The physiotherapist’s job is to minimize the inflammation that is present within the hip joint itself or in the muscles and tendons that surround the hip joint.
The physical therapist uses a variety of physiotherapeutic interventions that will release the pressure off sore muscles and un-pinch some of the nerves that may have been inadvertently squeezed by abnormal muscle contractions or even a misaligned disk. The application of hot and cold compresses has been known to be effective in reducing swelling and inflammation and in alleviating the painful experience to some degree.
Gentle and purposeful exercises of the hips performed for the patient by a professional physical therapist can help return the optimal functionality of the muscle groups in the hips. This significantly improves the ability of the individual to perform his activities of daily living because his hip’s range of motion is no longer greatly impeded by pain and joint immobility.
Other physical therapy interventions for hip pain can include trigger point therapy, otherwise known as dry needling which is similar in principle to the Chinese acupuncture treatment, massage, and careful manipulation of the joint and its surrounding structure. Joint manipulation coupled with directed or remedial massage is something that physical therapists are well known for. The aim is to carefully manipulate the hip joint to release joint capsules that may have been pinched. The result is greater flexibility and less pain.
If the pain is not severe, the physical therapist can teach a patient to perform hip stretches as well as squats in order to strengthen the hip muscles.
The management of hip pain can be as varied as its causes. However, it is important to understand that pain needs to be managed right away in order to allow the return of optimum functionality and joint mobility.