The hip joint is a vital component of the pelvis; it is strong, stable and at the same time allows a huge range of movement. The stability of the hip joint is essential for the weight bearing capabilities, because it acts as the connection between the legs and the torso. Despite the trauma that the hip joint is put through on a daily basis, it very rarely causes severe problems, until later in life.
Having said this, hip pain can be extremely worrying and often debilitating, as any restriction in movement has a huge impact on quality of life. There are many causes of this problem; below are a few common examples:
Arthritis is among the most frequent causes of hip pain (see article on Arthritis) and is on the increase due to the current obesity epidemic. Excessive weight through the hip joint, over a period of time, can result in early arthritic conditions, which osteopathy is well equipped to help. If replacement surgery is indicated then osteopathy can help with the aftercare.
Trochanteric bursitis is a common problem that causes inflammation of the bursa (protective pad of tissue under a muscle, ligament and tendon) over the outside of the hip joint. This is usually brought on by an increase of activity.
Tendonitis can occur in any of the tendons that surround the hip joint. The possible causes are overuse or a unaccustomed activity. Lower Back Problems can refer pain to the hip area, due to the nerve supply from the lower back to the hip. Often a diffuse pain or tingling sensation can appear.
Snapping hip syndrome, where a clicking sound occurs over the hip joint. This can be caused when muscles or ligaments are in a state of imbalance and therefore “flick” over the joint line; not always accompanied by hip pain, but can be linked with a muscle strain. On occasion, the cause could be a tear of the cartilage around the hip socket, which can cause a snapping sensation.
Hip fractures are most common in patients with osteoporosis – usually, but not exclusively, in elderly people.
Apart from the common specific conditions listed above, there are many more anatomical problems which could cause hip problems. For example: any foot, ankle and knee problems will certainly impact the hip, as this is where the leg joins the pelvis. Similarly, any structural problems involving the spine and pelvis could disrupt the hip joint.
If you are unsure of pain surrounding your hip then consulting an osteopath is always a good place to start. They have an expert understanding of how the body functions and will assess you as a person and advise and treat you based on your lifestyle, age and presenting complaint. If they feel that further tests are required to gain a better understanding of your problem, then they will refer you for further tests.