When people come in complaining of “hip pain” they are sometimes referring to the groin, sometimes to their lower back, but most often they are referring to the outside of their hip, or their “lateral hip”.
This pain is most common in middle aged females, though it can occur across ages and genders.
High up on the outside of the femur (thigh bone) is a large knobbly bit of bone, called the greater trochanter. At this point the femur goes off at about a 45 degree angle and the hip joint is located in the groin. Sitting over the top of the greater trochanter is a bursa, a pocket of fluid, whose job is to cushion the muscles and tendons running over the top of the greater trochanter so that they don’t rub against the bone.
This area is a common site to get pain. In the past it may have been diagnosed as gluteus medius tendinopathy (where the gluteus medius is placed under cumulatively more load than it can handle and begins to degenerate) or trochanteric bursitis (where the trochanteric bursa is inflamed and irritated due to being placed under too much cumulative load). However physiotherapy research has found that we’re not able to reliably distinguish between these two diagnoses or a combination of the two. As a result, this presentation is given the diagnosis of “lateral hip pain.” (I know right, you tell us you’ve got pain on the outside of your hip and we tell you you’ve got lateral hip pain).
Conveniently, the physiotherapy treatment isn’t affected by whether the pain arises from the bursa or the tendon or both. Hands on treatments can help reduce associated muscle tightness and inflammation. Taping can help to unload the tendon and bursa. Most important, however, is a rehab program focused on correcting biomechanical issues which are placing increased load through these structures. Without correcting these issues, the pain might be managed, but is unlikely to completely resolve.
Pain over the lateral hip may also be referred pain from the hip joint, or from the lower back, so these areas should be screened as well.
If you’re suffering with lateral hip pain, make an appointment to see our physiotherapist in Aubin Grove today!
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