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Understanding lateral hip pain

Lateral hip pain is a common complaint that mostly affects women between their 40-60s, but that doesn’t rule out other people developing symptoms! Pain doesn’t discriminate and this condition doesn’t seem to affect a particular ‘type’ of person; as I have seen people who are sedentary/inactive and those who do regular exercise (especially running), struggle with pain and restless nights because of their hip. Although age plays a part in symptoms - it isn’t just down to “getting old” and you can often improve your pain with the right management and exercise.

Symptoms generally develop because of irritation of the tendons that attach to the outside of your hip joint. These tendons arise from your big gluteal/buttock muscles. Now irritation can stem from a range of things: direct trauma, weakness & overload of your glutes, prolonged pressure to the area (lying on the affected side, tightness of overlying ITB), increase in activity/exercise, and habits that place more strain on the affected hip (crossing your legs, standing with a shift to one side, carrying a baby/heavy load on that side).

As pain continues the tendons become weaker and have reduced capacity to deal with anything that places load/strain on them, making some of your daily activities more difficult - and so the spiral often begins…more pain = less activity = more weakness = more pain… Luckily, tendons respond really well to exercise and once they get stronger pain can settle down within weeks.

It’s firstly important to identify the triggers of your pain and make some changes where possible. The usual culprits are your standing posture, sitting with your legs crossed and laying on the painful hip. So, simply stand equally, avoid sitting with your legs crossed and sleep on the other side with a pillow between your knees to keep your hip in nice alignment.

Once you’ve been able to avoid regular aggravation of symptoms the main thing that will help to resolve your pain is exercise. Specific strengthening exercises (not stretching!) helps to build the tendon strength so it can comfortably tolerate all the walking, standing, running (and so on) that you need to do in your normal day.

So if you’ve been struggling with lateral hip pain, make some of the above changes and get in touch to see how Physio At The Door can help you. You can start your journey to less pain with an e-mail, phone call or a discovery visit - reminder: these are all free! Ready to start a treatment plan to get you back to doing the things you love? Enquire about cost & availability this week via a form on the website or telephone.

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