Physical Therapy for Lateral Hip Pain

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Physical Therapy for Lateral Hip Pain

The hip is one of the most intricate joints in our body, connecting the pelvis to the thigh bone. It can be affected by acute trauma, overuse or anatomical differences. On one side of the upper thigh/buttock area, pain may present in an unusual manner that makes it challenging for physicians and orthopedic surgeons to diagnose.

Traditional wisdom held that lateral hip pain was due to inflammation of the trochanteric bursa, a cushion between the hip bone and muscles, tendons, and tissues surrounding it. However, recent research has demonstrated that most cases of lateral hip pain are actually caused by irritation, degeneration or tearing of tendons rather than bursitis at all.

Physical therapists can utilize special treatments to reduce pain and swelling caused by this condition. These may include ice, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, taping, and specific exercises for your hip. In addition, physical therapists may use hands-on therapy such as massage or manipulation to promote healing and improved hip function.

Physical therapy can teach patients how to modify their activities and lifestyle to reduce the amount of pressure placed on their hip. This may involve forgoing certain activities in favor of more appropriate ones, such as wearing shoes designed specifically for your activity. Wearing appropriate shoes also helps reduce pressure points on the hip.

Physical therapists utilize a range of stretches and strengthening exercises to help patients improve their hip mobility and strength. This is an integral component of any rehabilitation program as it reduces stress placed on your hip joints as well as the tendons connecting them.

A physical therapist can also assist patients in strengthening the gluteus medius and minimus muscle groups, which stabilize your hip joint. When these muscles are weak, lateral hip pain may result.

Education and exercise are the most successful treatments for this condition. A 2018 study revealed that physiotherapy-led education and exercise groups performed better than corticosteroid injection groups at 8 weeks, and 52 weeks of exercise led to even greater global improvements in function as well as decreased pain.

Altering a patient’s posture and gait pattern can also help alleviate hip pain. This involves decreasing their hip angle and increasing hip flexion (bending of the knee) so that their thigh bone rotates more toward their leg, decreasing friction in the joint.

Once a patient is diagnosed with lateral hip pain, they should begin physical therapy immediately. A physical therapist can teach them how to modify their daily activities to reduce pain and swelling, as well as increase mobility and strength.

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