Chiropractors often treat patients with hip pain. Very often they have worried needlessly that they have arthritis when actually their pain is caused by something else. How can you tell if arthritis is the cause of your hip pain? In this article chiropractor Russell Purchon explains the surprising truth about where the hips are located. He also outlines some common causes of ‘hip’ pain and the signs that it might be arthritis.
Where are the hips? (You may be surprised.)
The problem with the hips is that most people don’t know where they are. The hip is the ball and socket joint where the femur and the pelvic bone meet, and it is located in what most people would call the groin. When I ask a patient who has booked in with ‘hip pain’ to point to where it hurts, they tend to point to the pelvis and its associated muscles, such as the glutes. This isn’t the hip.
If it’s not your hip, what else might it be?
Here are some alternative causes of pain in what many people think of as the hip. You might be suffering from one of the following instead-
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Sacroiliac joint pain
- Muscle tension
- Nerve irritation from a disc.
- Referred pain from the lower back (see below.)
None of the above is a degenerative condition. They cause pain and discomfort but they can all respond well to chiropractic care, exercises and lifestyle changes.
My wife feared that she was getting hip arthritis. When I diagnosed trochanteric bursitis, she was so relieved that she became a bit teary. Her symptoms are now much improved because she has taken up exercise and has started sleeping on her back, relieving the pressure on her hips. Plus she has the peace of mind which an accurate diagnosis can sometimes bring.
If ‘hip’ pain affects how easily they can get out of a chair, people fear that they’re sliding into decrepitude. Especially if middle aged or older, that person may jump to the conclusion that they have a degenerative condition. Every couple of months I see someone who has worried needlessly about this, and they are often very relieved when I do a few simple checks and am able to reassure them that their hip isn’t falling apart.
When your hips hurt because of a problem somewhere else.
Even when pain really is felt in the hip, it doesn’t necessarily stem from a problem there. You might be feeling referred pain from the back. ‘Referred pain’ is pain which is felt elsewhere in the body, not in the place where the problem lies. Sciatica is one type of referred pain, in which pain in the leg results from problems in the back. Equally, pain can be referred to the hips from the lower back.
Arthritis of the hip.
Some people do arthritis which is causing pain in their hip. The factors listed below may indicate that you have hip arthritis, but please seek an expert diagnosis from a medical practitioner with a detailed understanding of human anatomy, such as a chiropractor.
- Greater pain in one hip than the other (symmetrical arthritis is unusual.)
- Difficulty walking
A common misconception is that arthritis sufferers are too frail to benefit from chiropractic care, in fact I see plenty of people with arthritis and I get good results. Although I can’t reverse the condition, if it has not yet become too severe I can often help to reduce pain levels and increase mobility. When we asked her how chiropractic treatment had helped her hip arthritis, our patient Joan Balmbra had this to say: “My hip arthritis isn’t much worse than when I first started, my restriction of movement hasn’t got any worse in about 7 years.”
What a chiropractor does.
I can use orthopaedic tests and a hands-on assessment of muscles to find out what is going on. I check the whole body, not just the affected area, to look for factors which may have caused the problem in the first place such as anatomical leg length difference or postural issues. If you’d like to understand in greater depth the kind of thing I do, click here. To make an initial appointment, just call 01434 602666.