The hips are the largest and strongest joints in the body and connect our legs to our torso.
This means we rely on our hips for walking/moving around as well as supporting our weight.
When we think about our hips this way and consider just how important they are and how much pressure they are under, it’s no wonder that hip pain and problems are so common.
This article lists symptoms and common causes of hip pain and which groups of people are prone to such issues as well as things we can do to keep our hips healthy and the best ways to treat problems in our hips when they arise; including osteopathy and acupuncture.
Symptoms of Hip Problems
Pain in the hip area.
Shooting pain down the leg/s.
Referred pain – that is, pain in areas other than the site of the issue. With hips, this is commonly in the buttocks and/or knees.
Pain on movement such as when exercising or during day-to-day movements such as walking.
Painful muscle spasms.
Sudden stabbing pains.
Pain on moving after a period of inactivity such as on waking.
The hip joint ‘catching’, clicking or clunking.
Loss of muscle.
Localised swelling and/or redness.
Causes of Hip Problems
Wear and tear over time the cartilage that helps protect and cushion the hip joint can wear away.
Overuse especially repetitive movements such as long-distance running.
Trauma, such as falls, can cause fractures, especially in older people and those with osteoporosis, that is, weakened bones so it is important to get see a doctor or visit the hospital for an x-ray.
Osteoarthritis: the breaking down, usually due to age and general wear and tear of the protective cartilage that cushions your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disease that causes your body’s own defences to attack the healthy cells that protect your joints.
Muscle tension – perhaps surprisingly sitting down for long periods is a common cause of tension in the hip flexor muscles. This is because lack of use can cause them to shorten and become weak through lack of use. Tension in the psoas, quads, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius can also be a source of hip pain.
Stress - both physical and emotional stress can cause muscle tightness commonly in the muscles that can cause hip pain (see above).
Trapped nerves in the hip itself or the back can be a cause of hip pain.
Slipped discs/herniated discs can affect the nerves that lead to the hips causing shooting-like pains.
Who is Likely to Have Hip Problems?
Pregnant Women commonly experience hip pain, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters due to weight gain as well as the changes in the body to prepare for birth.
Older People. Those over 50 will tend to experience more hip pain and 1 in 4 people over 60 report hip pain and problems.
Women tend to experience more hip problems than men and are also more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Those who are overweight will find their hips are under extra pressure and so are likely to experience more wear and tear in their hips.
Keep Your Hips Healthy
The following tips will help keep your hips healthy as you get older.
Regular exercise, especially low-impact exercise such as stretching, yoga, swimming and walking will help keep your hips healthy and flexible.
Weight-bearing exercise will help to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Maintain a healthy weight, excess weight puts extra strain on your joints and muscles, especially the hips.
Eat well; a diet high in omega-3, calcium-rich and anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy greens, tofu, dairy, oily fish, cherries and berries will help to keep your hips healthy.
Reduce stress – making time for activities that make you happy is important for your health and well-being. Spending time with friends, practising mindfulness and getting out in nature are all proven to relieve stress.
Avoid slips, trips and falls. Make sure your home is not hazardous to your hip health by keeping floors clear, keeping wires to the edges of rooms or off the floor, using non-slip mats and rugs, mopping up any spills straight away and replacing or removing frayed carpet edges.
Regular osteopathy appointments, massages, or acupuncture to boost circulation, stretch and destress muscles and prevent problems before they surface.
Treating Hip Pain with Osteopathy
Even if you already have a diagnosis regarding your hip problems from a doctor, the first step will be a consultation with your osteopath.
This will include a series of questions about your hip pain as well as a physical examination of your whole body rather than just your hips. This is because your osteopath will want to check the general alignment of your body and to see if your hip problem is caused by or causing other issues.
Depending on the cause and exact symptoms your osteopath will recommend a course of treatment that could include:
Your osteopath might refer you to your GP or another health practitioner for further tests or X-rays.
Manipulating the Hip Joint
By stretching, and applying gentle pressure or traction your osteopath can help the hip joint to align properly.
You will likely be given exercises to do in between your osteopath appointments. These will include stretches and strengthening exercises.
Soft Tissue Massage
Gentle massage can help release the tension in muscles that may be pulling the hip joint out of alignment. Massage also encourages blood flow to promote natural healing.
By inserting needles into specific points on the body acupuncture can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
This is when your osteopath will massage or apply pressure to knots or trigger points in soft tissues until they release.
Address Secondary Problems
Your osteopath might work on issues that have been caused by your hip problems such as knee issues.