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My hips hurt ! What can do I to help myself ? When do I need an opinion?

By: Mr Rishi Chana

Published Date: 07/01/21

What are the causes of pain in the hips?

How can we improve our function and keep active?

If it still hurts, should I seek help?

What are the causes of pain in the hips?

This is complex area with lots of anatomy to complicate and confuse things. This is why it can take a long time to diagnose the true cause of hip pain and get onto a treatment pathway that will help. A good start is to try and focus on where the pain is….

True hip pain from the ball and socket joint is generally in the front groin area. This pain can be both a dull ache and sharp pain. It can feel like the hip is dislocating sometimes, but don’t worry this is not really happening.

Pain from the core gluteal muscles and ‘bursa’ usually has discomfort that occurs in the soft tissue areas between your front and back pockets. This is typically sore to push and lie on.

Another area of common pain is along the outer trouser seam line of the thigh and this radiates down towards the knee. This is due to the ITB, a band of tissue that acts like an elastic spring along the outer leg.

Nerve related pain like sciatica is usually a sharp lightning bolt of pain that shoots down the back of the leg form the buttock into the foot. It can also be associated with pins and needles and weakness.

Sometimes, pain in the hip area can be caused by internal organ pelvic problems. Gynaecological problems and bowel problems (like a hernia) can cause pain in this area.

How can we improve our function and keep active?

No matter what the area and cause of your hip pain is, a good start to treating it is to identify the cause and target this area for treatment.

The guide above helps to focus or narrow down the likely cause. Treatments always start with the least invasive measures first and only escalate if things don’t improve as much as needed.

Self help measures include exercises that involve low impact and avoid deep rotation at the extreme of movement. A regular, varied routine of exercise will keep a healthy balance of all the key muscle groups in the body.

A significant improvement for most hip pain can be gained by maintaining strong core gluteal function. These are the three buttock muscles that act as the powerhouse for standing, running and walking. They also balance the ITB and bursal areas that can cause pain if not looked after. Basic exercises and information can be accessed via my website:

Physiotherapy, osteopathy and other health professionals have a good in depth knowledge of these conditions and how to treat them in a holistic manner and this avenue should be sought early to prevent long term conditions developing. There is lots of evidence that this helps significantly.

If it still hurts, should I seek help?

The short answer to this is yes! If you are getting pain despite self help or treatment without investigation or scans, then it is wise to see an orthopaedic specialist for an opinion and to get an Xray and MRI to confirm or exclude all the complex causes of pain. This will allow your health team to focus on the areas that need attention.

The HeartHealth App is a perfect platform to store your various results, scans and latest outcome scores. This allows good communication across all the healthcare team involved. The doctor, physiotherapist and osteopath can all see your necessary information, including scan images and operative information that you own and carry on your phone.This is a unique and powerful source of information that paints a complete picture for holistic healthcare.

Mr Rishi Chana, Hip and Knee Surgeon, on causes, treatments and when to seek help! - 7 January 2021


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