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Alternatives to Surgery if You Have Hip Pain

Our hips typically put up with all the wear and tear we put on them, but they can sometimes start to cause us problems. If you’re experiencing hip pain, you might think your only option is surgery, but surgery should only be used as a last resort.

When you use your hips, a layer of cartilage allows the hip bone to move easily in the socket. Both injury and age can cause that cartilage to wear out, causing hip pain. Often inflammation or physical trauma can be a cause of hip pain, as well.

If your hip has been giving you problems, there are many options for treatment that don’t involve surgery. Try some of the following treatment options to get back to using your hips to their fullest abilities.

1. Rest Your Hip

Sometimes what your hips need is rest. A few days of rest and relaxation can go a long way in healing whatever is causing you pain and getting you back to your full range of mobility. Modifying some of your daily activities can take pressure off your hips while giving them time to properly heal.

While resting your hips, avoid activities that require you to be on your feet for long periods of time. Avoid long walks as well as any impact sports, including jogging, tennis, or basketball. It’s pretty difficult to entirely avoid the need for standing or walking, so try using a cane to support yourself when these activities are necessary.

2. Perform At-home Stretches

Stretching improves both flexibility and strength. Hip pain can sometimes be caused by muscles that are too tight or too weak. Stretching will improve your range of motion and your functional ability, leading to a decrease in pain and healthy hips.

Remember that some pain is okay while stretching, but other pain should tell you that you need to stop immediately. Good pain comes from tiring out your muscles. It should build slowly and get better with time. Bad pain happens suddenly. If you feel a sudden, sharp pain, you should stop and rest your hips right away.

External Hip Rotation

This is one of the best stretches for increasing flexibility. Some people refer to this stretch as the butterfly. It opens up your hips, increasing the range of motion, which is important for athletes or anyone who is regularly active.

First, sit on the floor with your legs bent at your knees and the bottom of your feet pressed together. If you prefer, you can move your feet closer to your body to increase the intensity of the stretch. Then, place a hand on each knee and lean your body forward, while keeping your spine straight. Hold this position for up to two minutes.

Pigeon Stretch

The pigeon stretch is known for lengthening the hip flexors and is frequently used in yoga. To start, form a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Then, bring one leg forward, with your ankle in front of the opposite hip. The leg that is still behind you should be straight with your toes pointed. Your hips should remain even and pointed forward. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Then, repeat on the opposite side.

Horizontal Squat

This stretch is not only good for your hips, but it can also loosen your back muscles. Your back muscles are closely connected to your hips. It’s important to stretch connected muscles like your back because often hip pain can be caused by nearby muscle groups.

To begin this stretch, place your elbows and knees on the floor, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, widen your knees as far as possible and lengthen your spine. Lower your upper body to rest on your forearms and push your hips back and down. Hold this position for one minute.

3. Reduce Inflammation With Medication and Diet

Often, inflammation is the source of your hip pain. If you can reduce that inflammation, your hip pain should decrease significantly. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen, targets the inflammation in your body, while also helping you manage the pain. Be sure to read the instructions for use with these medications because they can have side effects if taken too frequently or incorrectly. However, when patients follow the instructions, these medications are completely safe.

Adjusting your diet can also help reduce inflammation. Fruits and leafy vegetables can reduce inflammation because they are so full of vitamins and minerals. Taking vitamin supplements can also add more nutrients to your diet. Try to reduce processed and sugary food, as well. These foods tend to increase inflammation in your body.

4. Ask a Doctor About Injections

A doctor can offer you injections to help with your hip pain. There are multiple types of injections, and each works differently. Regenerative injections give your body a boost to help enhance its healing abilities.

Cortisone injections use a corticosteroid, which is a drug that imitates cortisol, a hormone produced by the body. This type of shot is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s injected directly into the area that is inflamed. Perineural injections are used primarily for pain relief. They also help reduce inflammation, but they are best for patients experiencing high levels of pain in their hip.

5. Contact a Physical Therapist

Physical therapy has helped thousands of people get full use of their hips after an injury or another cause of pain. A physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific issue.

Your treatment plan could include personalized stretches or strength-building exercises. After an injury, there are often stretches and exercises that we can’t perform on our own because we don’t have the strength. The physical therapist will help you build that strength through various support strategies.

Your physical therapist may also use massage, heat, ice, and the use of physical supports to take the strain off your hips. Physical therapists see thousands of patients with hip pain, so they’re highly experienced at getting your hips back to normal.

After resting, stretching, and other pain-reducing activities, your hips should be feeling much better. If your hips are still bothering you, reach out to an expert in hip health to discuss what you can do to reduce your pain and improve the health of your hips.

About the author

Eastern Idaho Spine, Sports, and Rehab Center

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