How to Cure Hip Impingement Pain

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Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome, or hip impingement, is a condition that occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint do not properly align. As a result, they grind into each other instead of glide, which can cause pain, decreased range of motion, and wearing down of the joint. However, by strengthening the muscles of the hip and core, it is possible to decrease these symptoms, and get some relief from the pain.

The Malady: 

Hip impingement

The Facts:

A hip impingement is a potential painful and stiff condition that limits the femoroacetabular (aka hip) joint. Hip impingements are due to a structural problem with one of the two parts of the joint, namely the ball (which is the round head of your femur/thigh bone) and the socket (a concave hole in your pelvis that allows the ball to glide through it). An impingement can come in two types: a cam type, which affects the ball, or a pincer type, which affects the socket. Sometimes both can be present.

The Symptoms:

Hip impingements can start off with no symptoms at all. However, as the malady progresses, the patient may experience discomfort in end ranges of the movement (i.e. bringing the knee up towards the chest or stretching the leg all the way back). If the issue is not addressed, the pain progresses until it becomes painful at rest due to excessive irritation of the joint.

What is Happening:

In both a pincer and cam type impingement, a deformity causes the ball and the socket to bump into each other instead of glide causing pain. The grinding can cause an inflammation of the joint, or even arthritis of the hip if allowed to continue for too long. The loss of range of motion will become greater as time goes on as well, as the joint develops wear and tear from the constant grinding.

Why Is This Happening:

Many impingements are a result of your bony structure from birth. Over time, this becomes exacerbated with activity. While exercise does NOT cause this malady, improper movement patterns and poor technique may cause the structural issues to get worse, as the bones grind up against each other in the joint.

Lifestyle Adjustments:

Like many other painful joint conditions, getting your weight down is a critical step in decreasing the forces flowing through your hip. Remember, when you run or walk briskly, you are not just carrying your body weight, but a multiple of up to 5 times your weight, depending on how fast you are going. By decreasing your weight via a healthy diet and PAIN FREE exercises (muscle burn is good, pain is bad), you can decrease the painful shock forces flowing through your hip.

Prevent It

1)      Limit your running milage and rest appropriately if you feel any discomfort

2)      Wear appropriate footwear and run on soft (non-concrete) surfaces to decrease pressure on the joint

3)      Warm up properly before any athletic event

Fix It

The best way to treat a hip impingement is to strengthen the hip and core muscles surrounding the joint. Having core stability is important because you need to provide support for the pelvis, which hold the “socket” for the ball of the hip. In addition, it is important to provide stability and support for the hip joint by strengthening the gluteal muscles, especially the posterior glutes, aka the ‘sidebutt”. While it cannot correct the deformity entirely, this will help absorb the shock forces and decrease the progression of the degeneration.

1)      Heel taps in supine – 5 sets of 1 minute

Hold both knees bent up at 90 degrees. Tap one heel down to the ground. Bring it back up. Then tap the other heel.

2)      Sidelie leg raises/hip abduction – 3 sets of 15 twice a day

With your bottom knee bent and laying on your side, lift your top leg up and down

3)      Single leg stance – 3 sets of 30 seconds twice a day

Stand on your right leg for 30 seconds with your left leg in the air. Then do the same with your left leg.

Contact Info

Dmitry R. Choklin
PT, DPT, CSCS, CKTP

Cell: (917) 328-8098
Fax: (866) 282-1162
Email: dchoklin@yahoo.com

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