Hip impingement, also known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a painful condition where the femoral head (the ball of the hip) pinches against the acetabulum (the hip socket). Over time this causes damage to the cartilage or labrum. If left untreated suffers can develop osteoarthritis. Thankfully, there are several hip impingement treatment options that range from conservative at-home options to more aggressive surgical treatment. Keep reading to learn how you can stop hip joint pain.
When you feel the symptoms of hip impingement come on one of the first things you need to do is to rest. Continued movement that causes abnormal contact in your ball-and-socket joint will only cause further hip pain. Try to think back to what initially cause your pain. Movements like twisting or squatting are common culprits. Make sure to avoid those movements. Do your best to modify activities that require you to bend at your hips.
Hip impingement can cause tightness and decreased mobility in your hip joint. Working on stretches will release tightness and help you regain full range of motion. You should feel the muscles stretch during your movements but if you feel pain at any point stop. Always stretch slowly and in very deliberate motions to avoid any injury.
Hip impingement exercises focus on strengthening the muscles that surround the hip and keeping the strength well balanced. It also involves core strengthening exercises to maintain control within the pelvis. Try performing the exercises below at home, if you are uncomfortable with these movements talk to your doctor about getting a physical therapy referral.
Massage is a common therapy used to reduce muscle tension and knots. People who suffer from hip impingement may find that the muscles that surround their hip are tight. A gentle massage to release that tension can work to alleviate hip pain and tightness. You can go to a professional massage therapist or use a massage tool on your own to press deep into your tissues to release tension.
A compression brace can reduce the movement within the hip joint, reduce swelling, and may reduce pain. A brace can be worn during the day to help reduce the movement in your hip. With less movement, you may find that that pain decreases. A brace can also help if you feel any joint instability.
Compression therapy is similar to compression bracing but does not limit the range of motion in your joint. Use compression therapy to add a small level of support to your upper leg and to reduce any swelling you experience. In hip impingement, the injury is at the meeting point of the femur (thigh bone) and pelvis, so focus your compression on that area.
Hot and cold therapy are great at-home treatments to minimize the symptoms of hip impingement. Cold therapy works as an anti-inflammatory by tightening blood vessels to reduce swelling and it also interrupts the pain pathway which lessens hip pain. Heat does the opposite, it widens blood vessels which brings more blood to the area. This can improve healing time and soothe soreness. Use cold therapy for the first 72 hours after the pain starts. Then you can introduce heat. Alternating between hot and cold can give you the added benefit of both therapies which work to improve your pain.
Kinesiology tape is used for hip impingement to give the joint a small amount of support while also improving lymphatic circulation and increase proprioception (body awareness). The tape is applied over the hip and can be worn for several days in a row and does not need to be removed for showers or swimming.
When you have hip impingement it’s important to keep your legs in a neutral position while you sleep. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to keep them slightly bent and support your lower back. If you are a side sleeper then put a knee pillow between your knees. There are several sleeping supports available that can give you extra support and potentially lessen hip pain.
If you’re like many people you sit at your desk or computer for the majority of the day. With hip impingement that can lead to significant pain. Using a seat cushion can help take some of the pressure off of your hip and lower back. While the cushion won’t solve your problems it can make life a little bit easier and more bearable.
When nonsurgical treatments cannot provide relief it may be time to consider surgery. An orthopedic surgeon may order an x-ray or other diagnostic imaging to fully evaluate the injury. Many times hip impingement can be treated with arthroscopy. During this surgical procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision and inserts a small camera into the hip. The surgeon then cleans out any damaged tissues and can cut away any bone that is malformed which may be causing the impingement.
Hip impingement is a painful condition brought on by the wearing down of the cartilage in your hip socket. There are many home treatments that can minimize pain and allow you to continue your favorite activities. If home treatment does not resolve your issues then surgery may be indicated. Always talk to your doctor if you are experiencing new or worsening pain for a clear diagnosis and treatment plan.
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