Hip pain is a condition that becomes more common with age. It’s reported that 1 in 7 seniors experience significant hip pain on most days, particularly with simple movements such as sitting and standing. In addition to being painful, these individuals are also likely to report a diminished ability to carry out their regular activities. As such, it’s not unusual for a hip pain sufferer to schedule a visit with a doctor of chiropractic to see if a conservative course of care can benefit them without the need for medications, injections, or surgical intervention.
When a patient first presents for chiropractic care for hip pain, they will be asked to complete paperwork to describe both their past medical history and their current hip pain. This may also include questionnaires using diagrams and scales to assess pain and disability. The information provided will be useful to rule out red flags (fracture, infection, malignancy, and/or acute nerve injury) that may necessitate referral to a specialist or emergency services. The data will also provide insights as to the potential cause/s of the patient’s hip pain.
The possible causes for hip pain are myriad. In addition to trauma, arthritis, congenital defects, and other issues that can affect the soft tissues and bones that comprise the hip joint, the pain experienced as “hip pain” may actually be referred pain from the low back or buttocks. Or the patient might not even have hip pain but may be mistaking pain from nearby locations as hip pain. There may even be indication that the underlying cause is not musculoskeletal in nature and part of a larger issue that may need to be co-managed with the patient’s medical physician.
Once a chiropractor has reviewed the information provided by the patient, they will conduct a physical examination of the hip joint that may include analysis of gait or walking, sitting, and standing; ability to stand on one leg; range of motion (ROM) from seated and recumbent positions; leg length variance; muscle length checks; and neurovascular assessments in the lower limbs. This may also involve evaluation of the feet, ankles, knees, and lower back, as musculoskeletal disorders in these areas can place added stress on the affected hip during movement and would need to be treated to provide a satisfactory outcome for the patient.
While the specifics of treatment will vary from patient to patient, as well as the chiropractor’s training and clinical experience, care may involve a multimodal approach that includes manual therapies, exercise training, nutrition recommendations, and physiotherapy modalities aimed at restoring normal movement to the hip and other joints that could play a role in the patient’s chief complaint. As with many conditions, the longer it persists, the more time it can take to achieve a complete recovery, if at all. If you’re currently experiencing hip pain, call your doctor of chiropractic sooner rather than later.