Hip Pain Guide

Dr. Ryan Hosler & Dr. Jen Hosler

 

Your Guide to Hip Pain Recovery

1. We Understand Your Frustration.

Hip pain can be one of the most frustrating and limiting injuries to deal with. In fact, if hip pain is not addressed properly, it can linger for months or even years without much improvement. 

Being active weightlifters ourselves, we unfortunately have also experienced hip pain early on in our lifting careers. Thankfully, through the education and knowledge we had, we were able to properly rehab ourselves and even “prehab” ourselves to mitigate future hip pain from recurring.

Hip pain is the fourth most common complaint we treat at our practice (behind low back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain). We’ve successfully treated several handfuls of patient with hip pain.

Hip pain negatively affects a lot of your life… It’s not just a physical pain you feel. Being sidelined from your sport or being unable to participate in enjoyable activities can lead to depression and anxiety. Your hip pain may take away from your social life because you’re not able to partake in group fitness classes or go out running with your friends. If you currently have hip pain, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

One of the worst things about living with hip pain is that you may start experiencing low back pain as a result of your compensation patterns. Or you may even start feeling pain in your opposite hip or leg as a result of these compensations. This “small” hip pain issue can slowly turn into something much more serious if it starts effecting other areas of your body.

Not only can your hip pain start manifesting in other areas of your body (like your low back), it also limits your activities of daily living. The “simple” tasks that we take for granted daily all of a sudden become not so simple. Take for example, putting on your socks. If you have excrutiating hip pain, you know exactly how challenging it can be to put your socks on your feet in the morning.

But here’s the thing: hip pain is something you can recover from!

You will get through this! You will not live with hip pain for the rest of your life. You may just need some professional assistance and guidance to help you along the way. And that’s the exact purpose of this guide… To help you along your journey of overcoming your current hip pain complaints and getting you back to the life you want and deserve.

2. Key Factors In Overcoming Hip Pain

Before we get into what a solid hip pain recovery program should look like, let’s first discuss some key factors in overcoming your hip pain.

First, you must rule out that your low back is not the actual cause of your hip pain.

That’s right, your low back could potentially be causing your hip pain!

In fact, we’ve had a few hanfuls of patients report to our office with unresolvable hip pain for months or years who have been to various medical providers without much success. Some of these providers used traditional Western medicine methods (drugs, surgery, etc.) and some of these providers utilized physical therapy.

But there was one problem… They were all treating the hip when the problem was actually a low back issue!

You see, the lower back houses part of your spinal cord. And from your spinal cord, a ton of different nerves exit and travel into your hips and legs. Even if you don’t have any back pain, these nerves can still cause hip pain. This is similar to sciatica symptoms… Many sciatica patients don’t have any back pain, but do have leg pain.

Ruling out that your back is not the cause of your hip pain should be your number one priority. If you’ve been to several medical providers for your hip pain without much success and they didn’t examine your low back, it’s time to find a new doctor.

Here are a few signs that may indicate that your hip pain is coming from your low back:

  • You currently have hip and back pain
  • You had a history of back pain around the same time your hip pain started
  • You have hip pain that also radiates down your leg
  • You experience pain in the back of your thigh or calf
  • You have “electric,” “burning,” or “tingling sensations in your leg

Secondly, you must figure out what movements and positions are causing your hip pain.

What positions regularly cause your hip pain? This may seem like a silly question, but most people overlook this.

You can’t just expect your hip pain to go away if you don’t remove the causes of the problem in the first place. This is what we call “breaking the pain cycle.”

What exactly does breaking the pain cycle mean? Let’s explain…

 

Pain is simply a warning sign from the brain telling your body that something is wrong. Think of pain as an alarm. This alarm warns your body of danger (or potential danger) and is asking for a fix. But when you don’t fix what’s wrong and continually perform movements that cause your pain, this alarm starts going off more frequently. And eventually if you start ignoring the alarm, it stays on all of the time.

So how do you break the pain cycle?

Initially, you have to avoid movements that are causing your hip pain. When you start experiencing less pain, you interrupt the pain cycle and your body’s alarm returns to normal. It’s that simple once you identify the movements that are contributing to your pain.

Here are some common movements that we hear cause our patient’s hip pain:

  • Every time I do back squats my hip pinches.
  • Every time I move my leg like this, ouch!
  • Every time I bend over to tie my shoes my hip hurts.
  • My hip doesn’t hurt during leg day, but the next day I can barely move!

Identifying movements and positions that flare up your hip pain is essential so you can remove those aggravating factors while your body heals and desensitizes.

4. Breaking The Pain Cycle.

The key to overcoming your low back pain starts with breaking the pain cycle early and often.

What does that mean? Let’s explain.

Pain is simply a warning sign from the brain telling your body that something is wrong. Think of pain as an alarm. This alarm warns your body of danger (or potential danger) and is asking for a fix. But when you don’t fix what’s wrong and continually perform movements that cause your pain, this alarm starts going off more frequently. And eventually if you start ignoring the alarm, it stays on all of the time.

So how do you break the pain cycle?

Initially, you have to avoid movements that are causing your pain. When you start experiencing less pain, you interrupt the pain cycle and your body’s alarm returns to normal. It’s that simple once you identify the movements that are contributing to your pain.

6. Find Out What Movements Are Pain-Free.

Finding out what movements don’t aggravate your symptoms and cause pain is crucial. These movements are what will keep you active throughout your rehab and recovery process.

Now, these don’t have to be low back specific movements. In fact, we encourage you to play around with movements that don’t involve the low back.

Think back to the Joint-By-Joint Approach we talked about above. Instead of stretching your low back because it temporarily feels better, how about you start working on your thoracic spine mobility and/or hip mobility? Additionally, you may try utilizing exercises that provide the lower back with more stability!

 7. Create Your Game Plan.

Now that you have an understanding of why movement matters and what movements to avoid in your rehab process, it’s important to make a plan.

And it’s even more important to stick to the plan you’ve created! Rehab is a process, so don’t expect your back pain to resolve in a week’s time.

There are a ton of different ways you can treat your low back pain, including massage therapy, acupuncture, and other techniques, but unfortunately these are just temporary relief techniques. There’s nothing wrong with them, and they’re fantastic tools, but they’re not fixing your movement problems.

The best and most researched way of overcoming low back pain is through exercise and staying physically active. This is where the true “magic” happens and makes long-term changes in your movement and musculoskeletal health.

It’s important to realize that your game plan and rehab process may have ups and downs (good days and bad days). This is a totally normal part of healing and overcoming your low back pain, but it’s important to take note of what may have aggravated your symptoms. It could have been something you did the day prior or something you did the day of. Either way, it’s important to continually reassess how you’re feeling and make changes as necessary.

Your game plan should include specific exercises that are prescribed from your physical therapist or chiropractor to provide pain-relief, improve your mobility, improve your stability, or a combination of all the above. These exercises are very important to perform, but it’s equally important to make modifications to your daily lifestyle as needed (like avoiding certain movements the cause pain as we talked about earlier).

8. What To Expect From Us.

We’re here for you along your entire rehab journey.

From the moment you walk through our office door for your initial assessment, you’ll be with us one-on-one for at least an hour. This hour will allow us to thoroughly gather a solid medical history, create personalized goals, and assess your lower back pain through a detailed movement and physical assessment.

Following the history and physical assessment, we’ll educate you on the causes of your low back pain and formulate a game plan to get you back to living an active, pain-free lifestyle.

iWe will also provide you with an estimated number of visits (and time frame) for you to completely resolve your low back pain. This will include the number of visits you need per week, which is typically never more than 1-2 times per week.

Your treatment and care will be individualized to your personal goals, wants, and needs. Often, this looks like a mixture of hands-on manual therapies, stretching, joint mobilizations and adjustments, and of course, corrective exercises.

Following your initial visit with us, you can expect 30 minute or 60 minute one-on-one follow-ups with us. Spending this amount of time with us in an intimate, one-on-one setting is how we get the results and outcomes you’re looking for.

If you aren’t sure if we’re a great fit for you, then reach out to us!

We offer all our potential patients the option to have a free phone consultation with us to make sure we’re a great fit to work together.

9. What We Expect From You.

If you’re reading this, we hope you’re already our ideal patient, especially if you’ve made it this far through the guide.

We expect all of our patients to be invested in their health. If you’re experiencing low back pain, you need to prioritize your health above all things. We can only do so much as your healthcare and rehab provider to help you overcome your low back pain.

To get the most out of your rehab (and actually achieve your goals), you have to be invested fully in the rehab process as well. We must work as a team and you must hold your own with your at-home homework and lifestyle modifications. After all, there are 168 hours in a week and you will only be spending 1-2 hours with us each week.

That’s only 0.6-1.2% of your weekly time spent with us!

As you can see, you have to put in the work. You can’t expect us to “magically” fix you. You must be invested in the process. And if you’ve had your low back pain for months or years, you must not expect it to magically disappear after 1-3 visits. It’s just not plausible for a long-term strategy.

10. Will I Need Diagnostic Imaging?

Believe it or not, diagnostic imaging is overutilized in the physical medicine field. All too often people are running straight to their medical doctor for an MRI for their low back pain. Unfortunately, all they’re doing is wasting their time and money.

Instead, your best bet is to see a physical therapist or chiropractor first. They’ll be the one to decide whether or not you’d benefit from having imaging performed based upon the results of your physical examination and history.

In most cases, you won’t need any diagnostic imaging. But if things aren’t adding up in your physical exam, then we may send you out for further imaging and testing.

Here’s when we think it’s a good time to have diagnostic imaging performed:

  • If there are any red flags found in the physical exam.
  • If a solid trial of conservative care has been performed without much success and we feel we need more information.
  • If things just don’t add up in your first visit.

12. Finding A Good Doctor/Therapist.

You should look for a few things when trying to find the right healthcare provider for you. Especially a rehab provider to help you overcome your lower back pain.

These are the qualities we possess ourselves and feel that all healthcare providers should possess as well.

  • They should spend plenty of time with you to find a solution.
  • They focus on your concerns, priorities, and goals.
  • They actually perform physical tests.
  • They allow you to be independent.
  • They find ways to keep you active and moving.
  • They continually progress and modify your rehab game plan as you improve.

13. Final Thoughts.

Thank you for taking time to read our low back pain guide! We’re here for you to help you overcome your complaint and live a stronger, more resilient life.

If we can be of any assistance along your rehab journey, we hope you give us a call or email us. We’re here to get you back to living the life you want and deserve.

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