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Is hip pain throwing off your balance?

By: Rachel Herrmann, DPT, PT

The hip joint is one of the most stable joints in the body, but unfortunately that does not keep this joint and region of the body from developing issues and producing pain. There are multiple structures in and around the hip joint that can produce pain in this area of the body:

  • Labrum– the ring of cartilage around the rim of the socket of the hip joint. Tears can produce symptoms of catching, locking or giving out of the hip.
  • Hip abnormalities– abnormalities in the shape, size, or position of the ball or socket of the hip joint  that can cause instability of the joint, pinching of the hip and a deep pain. This can be congenital, developmental, traumatic, or related to repetitive hip movements such as with certain sports (ex: soccer, dance, golf, baseball, hockey)
  • Muscles – spasms, strains, trigger points, or inflammation of the muscles or their tendons can produce sharp, aching, or throbbing pain and or tightness along the front, back, outer side or groin regions of the hip
  • Bursas– small fluid-filled sacs that lie between bony prominences and tendon, most commonly along the bony prominence of the side of the hip and second most commonly at the front of the hip.
  • Osteoarthritis– degeneration of the joint surfaces of the hip bones. Most commonly produces stiffness that improves with movement and groin pain.
  • Radiculopathy– nerve pain (sharp, shooting, electric-like) that originates from the low back can also produce pain in the region of the hip

No matter what the source of the pain is, pain in the hip region can contribute to difficulty sleeping or lying in certain positions, difficulty walking and climbing stairs, difficulty standing up from a seated position, altered balance/stability, difficulty bending your leg in towards your chest (such as when dressing, cutting your toe nails, or washing/drying your feet), difficulty running, difficulty squatting and difficulty standing.  Additionally, if left untreated the pain could continue to worsen and further impact these activities along with other day to day or leisure activities. Furthermore, compensations due to hip pain can lead to secondary pains of the lower back, knee or ankle/foot.

If any of these pains sound familiar, checking in with your physical therapist would be a good first step. A physical therapist will be able to perform special tests to help rule in or rule out some of the above issues and then can assess your strength, flexibility, joint mobility, muscle quality, balance/stability and gait to determine factors that may be contributing to your pain. Sometimes surgery is needed for certain conditions of the hip or depending on the severity of the issue, but in many cases the pain can improve with just physical therapy. Even if surgery may be required, doing physical therapy beforehand can help improve your strength, muscle control, balance and flexibility to help make a recovering from surgery quicker and easier.

So don’t let your hip pain hold you back. Get evaluated and treated by a physical therapist to help yourself stay moving and doing what you want to and need to do. Call 703-450-4300 to schedule your evaluation today.CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you. 

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