Approximately 100 million Americans struggle with some type of chronic pain, according to The American Academy of Pain Medicine.
For approximately 7 percent of these individuals, the pain is located in the hip area, with this type of pain especially problematic for athletes.
Athletes and hip pain
The Rheumatology Network explains that hip injuries are fairly common in people who engage in activities that “involve a high degree of increased force and extremes of movement across the hips.”
This includes sports such as soccer, running and dancing, among others.
The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWM) indicates that causes of hip pain in athletic individuals include:
- Muscle strains
- Muscle tendon bursitis
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Bruises and bone fractures
- Labral cartilage tears
Some of these can happen as a result of falls and sports-related impacts, whereas the UWM indicates that others occur from engaging in “extensive, repetitive motion” or by placing too much strain on the hip joint.
Additionally, two of the main risk factors for hip-related athletic injuries are improper conditioning and scaling up training efforts before the body is ready.
When a hip complaint exists, it’s not uncommon for pain to be felt in surrounding areas—such as in the lower back or pelvis—versus in the hip joints.
For instance, one study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise analyzed data for 114 female athletes referred for suspected musculoskeletal injury due to experiencing pelvic pain. Of these, 74 (65 percent) actually had hip injuries or injury to soft tissue in the hip area.
Why are women so prone to these types of issues?
The female athlete and hip-related issues
Harvard Medical School states that women are more prone to sports injuries in general, largely due to basic biological differences. For instance, female athletes tend to have less muscle mass and more body fat than their male counterparts.
Harvard adds that some of these injuries result because female athletes “move differently” than male athletes. For instance, they tend to land differently when jumping and, when it comes to changing direction, women often do so by using one foot whereas men typically use both.
Research published in the Croatian Medical Journal further notes that, in regard to hip injuries in particular, while a wider pelvis is beneficial for women who engage in sports because it gives them a lower center of gravity, this also works against them because it can create varus of the hips and increased femoral anteversion.
Hip pain prevention
One of the most basic things DCs can do to help athletic patients with hip issues is to share with them what they can do to avoid them in the first place. Harvard indicates that this includes encouraging training that emphasizes better movements for hip health, such as using both feet to change directions and landing more safely while jumping during training or games.
Another option is to share exercises athletes can do to strengthen and stretch the hip area. Healthline suggests that a few of the most effective stretches include:
- Seated butterfly stretch
- Pigeon pose
To strengthen the hips, Healthline states that these exercises often work best:
- Floor-sliding mountain climbers
- Skater squats
- Straight leg raises
Chiropractic and hip pain treatment
If hip pain already exists, chiropractic care can also help. For instance, if the pain is due to an arthritis-related condition, the Arthritis Foundation reports that chiropractic can help by improving the function of the arthritic hip joint.
Research confirms this, with one study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics fining that, when patients with hip osteoarthritis underwent three weeks of chiropractic care, they had a “clinically and statistically significant improvement in self-related hip pain.” They also had improvements in hip function and quality of life.
And if the hip pain is caused by biomechanical issues, an article published by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) indicates that mobilization and manipulation can often provide relief.
This requires first confirming that the pain caused is due to hip issues, which is generally the case if “the area of maximum pain intensity in the groin approximately halfway between the ASIS and the symphysis pubis.”
Then, once it is determined that a hip issue exists, the DC can then create a treatment plan specific to those concerns.
Hip pain can be more prevalent in athletes for a number of reasons. But there are also many ways to prevent hip issues and treat pain that does exist, and DCs can play a positive role with both of these.