Common Hip Injuries

The hip is a complex joint that circumducts in motion. Often times, due to this complexity, the hip is a sight for injury. Pain may manifest inside the joint, on the posterior, anterior, or lateral side.

An injury inside the joint can likely be due to degeneration (osteoarthritis) of the joint, a labral tear, bone spur or fracture caused by trauma. Osteoarthritis of the hip joint can be secondary to previous trauma or genetics. It is a major ailment among the general population and has no cure of yet. The arthritis causes a reduced range of motion, so it is extremely important to work on increasing and maintaining mobility through low intensity corrective exercises and stretching. A labral tear, bone spur or fracture will require a set healing period of time and slow progression of exercises and stretching afterwards.

Common injuries that occur on the posterior side of the joint are piriformis and hamstring strains. The piriformis is a supportive hip muscle underneath the gluteus muscles that is easily strained when there are poor mechanics or gluteus muscles are improperly conditioned and in a compensatory action, becomes the prime mover. This can cause tightness that cause sciatic and lumbar issues. Correction for this requires training corrective exercises specific to the imbalance of the side where pain is associated, and flexibility techniques. A hamstring strain is caused either by an overload on the muscle, or an imbalance between the different muscles or sides of the body. Poor mechanics; for example, pronation (a flattening of the arch), is a likely culprit. Taking the same course of action for healing first, then addressing movement patterns can have a reduced likelihood of future strains.

Anterior injuries that occur are hip flexor and groin strains, or adductor tendonitis. Overload or overuse of the hip flexors from climbing stairs, running or mechanical imbalances can be alleviated through stretching and focus on training the posterior hip muscles. There can also be lower back pain associated with this injury, so stretching the lower back and developing core muscles is important. Adductor tendonitis causes tenderness at the insertion of the adductor at the symphysis. It’s common in athletes and requires a modification in training and stretching, but there is little likelihood for complication. Core strength should be the primary focus to insure there isn’t any compensation in movement patterns.

The most common lateral hip injury is illiotibial band syndrome. This occurs often in runners or athletes with repetitive movement in the sagittal plane, or due to excessive pronation. IT band syndrome results in inflammation where the band rubs across the distal lateral femur and can be felt at the outer side of the hip and at the insertion point in the lower lateral corner of the knee. Proper shoes, stretching and strengthening of the large leg muscles can aid in recovery. Electrical stimulation is an alternative if healing is slow.

The most important things to think about in relation to hip health are core and overall glute strength. Implement a program that works in all planes of motion and conduct a regular stretching routine to reduce likelihood of injury. Please contact me if you have any specific questions.

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