Hip Pain when Walking

One of the questions we get asked a lot on our Instagram is “why do I have hip pain when I’m walking”? Our Principal Physio, Sam Davison, gives us her ideas below.

Hip pain is a common complaint we see in all age groups and in people of all levels of fitness. Fortunately, most hip pain will resolve within a couple of days. If it hasn’t settled down within a week, we recommend a review with a health professional. Most hip pain can be resolved conservatively with stretches, movement correction or strength based work.

What our physio’s will assess

Our physio’s will conduct a through examination of your hip joint looking for any structural causes for the pain. This involves assessing the range of motion of your hip, knee and often lower back. They will then conduct some tests which may identify certain problems such as cartilage tears, muscle weakness or joint stiffness. They will also have a look at your walking pattern and your ability to conduct normal every day tasks such as sitting to standing, stairs, and squats, which all require reasonable hip movement.

How do I know if I’ve broken my hip?

It is very unusual to break or fracture your hip without a trauma such as a fall. The common signs are significant hip pain, visible deformity and an inability to weight bear / walk on the affected side. Generally patients with a suspected hip fracture will present to the hospital emergency department.

We do however, see many hip stress fractures / stress reactions. Most people will have heard of common stress fracture sites such as the shin bone or in the foot bones, but it is possible to cause a stress problem in the hip – either in the hip joint line or in the middle of the thigh.

Pain in this sense will generally worsen with weight bearing activity and ease with rest. There is frequently a history of progressive overload such as an increase in running / training intensity. Pain is often vague and reported in the hip region. When ignored, patients may start limping as their distance increase and will always struggle to hop or single leg squat on the affected side.

Hip pain in children

Hip pain in children is always a little more cause for concern, especially whilst they are still growing. Depending on the age of the child, our Physio’s may refer back to your GP for further investigations. If your child complains of hip pain regularly, limps after exercise or their walking pattern looks unusual, organise a review with a health practitioner. With Children, it is vital that early management of hip conditions is optimised to avoid long term complications.

Hip clicking

If you have a clicking hip that is non-painful, there is generally no cause for concern. If it’s affecting your ability to move in a particular direction or if it’s happening every time you perform a certain movement – it could be an indicator of a muscle imbalance such as a “snapping hip syndrome”

Does hip pain mean I need an operation?

Hip surgery is often only required when investigations have revealed a structural cause for the pain and conservative measures have failed to improve a patient’s function.

Conditions such as advanced hip arthritis, hip fracture, rheumatoid arthritis and extensive hip damage may require surgery after discussion with a specialist hip surgeon.

If you are concerned about your hip pain, speak to one of our team! Based on the outcome of your assessment we will be able to provide you an individual management plan explaining the best course of action to get you back to doing the things you love.

By Physiotherapist, Sam Davison

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