Massage Therapy for Hip Pain
About 10% of the general population experiences hip pain, but that number can increase with age. Hip pain can become chronic and can interfere with even basic activities like sitting, standing or even walking. There are a variety of causes of hip pain, which include the hip joint itself but can also include muscular or neuropathic.
Some possible factors that contribute to feeling hip pain include osteoarthritis of the hip, piriformis syndrome, and femoroacetabular impingement (or hip impingement), though there are many other possible causes or explanations.
Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Hip osteoarthritis (HOA) is a disabling disease characterized by pathologic changes of the whole hip joint. It can affect anywhere from 2-9% of people under the age of 75. Hip osteoarthritis has been associated with generally poor health status and impaired ability to function regularly.
Manual therapy, like massage therapy, can help people with osteoarthritis of the hip reduce their pain intensity and improve their function, with even more significant results when combined with exercise therapy. A supervised exercise program focusing on strengthening, aerobic capacity or range of joint motion can help decrease joint pain and improve self-reported physical function. Participating in both exercise therapy and patient education for osteoarthritis of the hip has also been found to potentially postpone total hip replacement surgery for those patients.
Piriformis syndrome is a clinical condition of sciatic nerve entrapment where patients often report pain in the gluteal/buttock region that may "shoot," burn or ache down the back of the leg (i.e. "sciatic"-like pain). This can also contribute to chronic pain in the hip area. People with piriformis syndrome sometimes describe pain in the sacroiliac joint (the joint that links your pelvis and lower spine), which can be interpreted as hip pain.
Physical therapies that include range of motion exercises and massage can help decrease pain for people with piriformis syndrome. A stretching routine, which can be recommended by a Registered Massage Therapist, can also lead to improvement in function for a lot of people with piriformis syndrome.
Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), sometimes referred to as hip impingement, is when abnormalities of the femoral head (top of your femur) and/or the acetabulum (socket of the hip bone) occur. This means that there is unusual contact between the two during hip motion, especially in positions of hip flexion and rotation, which can lead to hip pain.
The symptoms of this condition may come from damage to soft tissues like the labrum and cartilage during regular activities, so there can be a role for conservative non-drug or non-surgical therapies, such as treatment from a Registered Massage Therapist, for reducing pain and disability and improving muscle strength and flexibility. This includes massage, exercises focused on strengthening the affected muscles as well as temporary activity modification and patient education about the condition.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to feeling hip pain, but regardless of the cause, hip pain can have a major negative impact on quality of life. It can make it more difficult to stand, walk, or enjoy your regular activities. Although there are certain causes of hip pain that are more common in older people, hip pain can happen at any age. If you have hip pain, whether acute or chronic, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Massage therapy, especially when combined with an exercise program, can help many people with hip pain find some relief.
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