Guilderland, NY -The hip is one of the body’s largest and most complex joints. Whether you are deadlifting at the gym, bending to reach into your bottom cabinet drawer, salsa dancing or hula hooping, you bet the hip joint is involved in the movement! It is a ball and socket joint formed by the articulation of the femoral head (top of the thigh bone) with the acetabulum of the pelvis. The shape of the hip joint allows for a wide range of motion in all planes, but it is inherently strong and stable due to the support of thick musculature, tendons, ligaments and a capsule. Being a primary weight-bearing joint, the hip is prone to degenerative changes over time and a multitude of injuries caused by repetitive movements (or lack of proper movement!)
When determining the cause of hip pain or discomfort, it is very important to identify where the symptoms are located. Many of us say “hip” when in fact we may point to the groin, buttocks, lower back or sacroiliac area. The following are some common causes of hip pain.
Osteoarthritis of the hip joint is a degenerative “wear and tear” condition that affects individuals who are middle aged and older. This condition typically occurs slowly over time. Degenerative osteoarthritis of the hip joint is classified by pain and stiffness, particularly worse in the morning or after long periods of sitting or resting. Arthritis pain may radiate from the hip to the buttock, groin or knee. Those affected will notice a decrease in their normal range of motion, particularly with turning the thigh and leg in, and with extending the thigh backward. Stiffness, lack of range of motion, and pain may make activities that involve bending, squatting or walking difficult.
Hip Tendonitis/Bursitis: Pinpoint tenderness and swelling localized over the greater trochanter, the bony point on the outside of the hip, are classic signs of bursitis. A bursa is a fluid filled sack that acts as a gliding surface to limit the amount of friction between different body tissues. In individuals with tight hip muscles or a tight IT Band, repetitive activities such as walking, biking or running may cause excessive friction of the bursa between the bony trochanter of the hip and taut tendons and fascia. Over time, this causes irritation, inflammation and pain. Sleeping on the affected hip, getting up from a chair after prolonged sitting, and repetitive walking, stair climbing or squatting, aggravates pain caused by an inflamed bursa. Chronic inflammation of the bursa may cause “snapping hip syndrome,” a condition where a painless, audible click is heard when the IT band passes over the greater trochanter during hip motion.
Tight Hip Flexors: A sedentary lifestyle, or job that requires long hours of sitting at a desk inevitably causes a lot of tension of the muscles at the front of the hip and groin, because the hip is locked into a flexed position. The iliopsoas muscle is a primary hip flexor that originates in the lower back, lies deep in the abdomen, and crosses the front of the hip into the groin where it attaches to the thigh bone. Knots or triggers points in this muscle caused by chronic tension in the muscle from sitting for long periods can cause pain in the front of the hip, groin, SI joint area and lower back. Individuals with chronically tight hip flexor muscles may be at increased risk of straining this muscle during vigorous exercise or repetitive movements especially if they do not warm up properly prior to beginning workouts, or ramping up exercise intensity too much, too quickly. Keep your hip flexors loose by trying this stretch: Kneel with one knee on the floor and the other in front of you in a lunge position. While keeping your lower back straight, slowly shift your weight forward to the front foot until a gentle stretch is felt at the front of the kneeling leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds and alternate sides.
Your hips are big, strong joints. Take care of them so you can move and dance for a lifetime! If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact us at the Sports & Spinal Wellness Center at 518-869-3415. Please visit our website for more information at www.sportsandspinalwellness.com. We would be happy to be a part of your healthcare team.