Physiotherapy for Lateral Hip Pain
Lateral hip pain affects the outside of the thigh and can be very painful and interrupt your life. The pain is often felt deep inside the hip and buttock area and can radiate into the bony part of the outer thigh (greater trochanter) and in some more severe cases, right down the outside and front of the thigh and into the knee.
This condition is known by several names, including Greater Trochanter Pain Syndrome, Greater Trochanter Bursitis, Hip Bursitis, Glute Med Tendinopathy and Trochanteric Bursitis.
Mostly affecting females aged 35-65 years and occasionally very active males, lateral hip pain is generally caused by weakness in the hip abductor muscles. It is irritated by crossing your legs, sleeping on your side, moderate walking, gardening, sitting in deep positions such as driving or sitting on the couch, or going up and down hills or stairs.
Why Are Women Affected So Much More?
There are a couple of reasons women tend to experience this condition more. Women have wider hips which can cause more compressive forces on the glute med tendon as it is compressed by the outside of the femur.
Also, women going through menopause tend to experience lateral hip pain. The hormone estrogen protects the health of tendons and with the hormonal changes experienced during menopause, estrogen levels diminish. Therefore, women with low estrogen tend to be susceptible to tendon injuries and pain – that includes all tendons in the body such as the shoulder, Achilles, knee and hamstring – not just the hips.
Males who are very active can be susceptible to lateral hip pain when they overload their hip and tendon with excessive sports, usually those sports that involve quick changes of direction.
How Physio Can Help Lateral Hip Pain
A physiotherapy rehabilitation program that targets the affected tendon can result in the restoration of movement and pain relief. A sports physiotherapist can assess and treat this condition, whether it is acute or chronic. Here are three tips to help fix your lateral hip pain.
1. Positional Changes
Assess your lifestyle activities and make some simple changes to the way you position your body. For example, avoid deep hip flexion positions such as low couches – boost yourself up with a higher chair or placing some cushions under you to take the load off the hip. Putting a cushion or some magazines under you while driving can also help.
If sleeping on your side hurts, try putting a pillow between your legs while sleeping. Rolling forwards slightly so you are not directly putting pressure on your hip may also relieve some discomfort.
Also, avoid crossing your legs and stretching the muscles to minimise the pain.
2. Keep Moving
Lateral hip pain does not benefit from full rest as it will increase the deconditioning in the hip joint and the affected tendon. Careful, regular movement while going about your daily activities is best.
3. Strengthen the Hip and Glute Med Tendons
There are some simple exercises you can try which will help strengthen the area.
- Lying Leg Lift: Lying on your side with your body straight and legs stacked, slowly lift your top leg and lower.
- Bridge with Belt: Lying on your back, place a belt around your legs, just above your knees, keeping them hip width apart. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, gently push out against the belt and lift your bottom up and down whilst holding the tension in the belt.
- Belted Squat: Place a belt around your feet, so you are standing on the belt. Stand hip width apart and gently lower into a squat whilst pushing against the belt and holding the tension.
For more comprehensive physiotherapy treatment, book an appointment with an expert in hip pain physio who will devise a customised plan to have you moving pain free as soon as possible.
If the pain is very severe and rehab exercises are unable to be performed, a cortisone injection can help. Note that this will only reduce the pain in the short term, and the weakened hip tendon still needs to be strengthened.
Lateral hip pain is not pleasant, and life is too short to feel uncomfortable! So, use the advice above and consider booking a physio consult today.