Reviewed by Veena Angle, MBBS, MD and Physician Chu I Ta
Hip Pain: Causes and TCM Treatments to Ease Discomfort
Published | 7 min read
Hip pain can happen due to a hip socket misalignment or an underlying, inflammatory condition. Prevent the issue with clinical and traditional remedies.
Your hip is the largest weight-bearing joint in the human body and is made up of two components – the femoral head and the rounded socket in the pelvis. It allows you to move and rotate and overexertion can result in short-term hip pain.
Long-term hip pain, on the other hand, suggests a more deep-rooted issue. You would feel it as a sharp twitch in the groin, down the front of the leg, and in the knee.
There are several conditions that can cause hip pain. Read on
Common Triggers of Hip Pain
A partial dislocation or misalignment of the hip and sacroiliac – the connection between the spine and pelvis joints – will cause pain.
“Hip joint misalignment can be best compared to rust on a bicycle chain. Frequent use may sometimes shift the joint back in place but can also see them grinding against each other. Over time, the friction will damage your cartilage, triggering pain.”
Real Health Medical Doctor of Chiropractic, Simon Shen
A hip misalignment will also make your sacroiliac joint stiff and reduce your range of motion. Walking up and down a staircase will feel like you’re ascending and descending Mount Everest. Thinking of doing pike push-ups and downward dog stretches? Forget about it.
What’s worse is, your hip joint will need to go into overdrive to compensate for a lack of mobility and will eventually cause you pain.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),
A common cause of hip pain is arthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis and generally affects elderly people. It causes cartilage damage, inflammation, and bone changes.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the hip joint, has symptoms such as pain, swelling, and prolonged stiffness.
Another type of arthritis that causes hip pain is tongue-twisting Ankylosing spondylitis. Chronic spine and back pain are common for people with the condition.
Hip tendinitis often affects athletes, who are likely to overuse their muscles, resulting in tendon pulls. When this happens, the hip can become inflamed, and you may experience pain, swelling and tenderness around the joint.
Fractures or dislocations
Elderly people are likely to suffer hip fractures due to their bones thinning. Osteoporosis too can increase your risk of fractures or deformities.
A dislocation of the hip joint happens when the femoral head disconnects from the socket. Often, the injury is a result of a traumatic event such as a car accident or a heavy fall.
Another inflammation-related condition, trochanteric bursitis describes a swelling of the bursa – a fluid-filled sac – on the outside point of the hips.
A pinched nerve occurs when pressure applied on a nerve by the surrounding tissues — muscles, tendons, cartilages, and ligaments — causes it to become irritated.
You might feel a dull ache or a sharp, burning pain that radiates to the groin or knee. You may also experience a tingling sensation, hip tightness, numbness, weakness, and a limited range of movement in the affected leg.
Holistic Treatment Options for Hip Pain
Muscle, tendon or bursa sac injuries can heal properly through rest, ice, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication. You can follow the R.I.C.E method — rest, ice, compression, elevation — which is a simple at-home treatment plan for soft tissue injuries.
If your hip pain is accompanied by a deformed joint, an inability to bear weight on a joint or move a leg, intense pain, and swelling, seek emergency care immediately. You should also seek medical help if you have hip pain and a
Treating arthritis includes taking medication and undergoing physical therapy. If your condition is serious, a healthcare provider may propose surgery to repair a tendon or labral tear. A labral tear refers to a tearing of the ring of cartilage on the outside rim of a hip joint socket.
Strengthening your hip muscles and relieving discomfort are the focus of physical therapy for hip pain. Chiropractors will administer hip and sacroiliac joint adjustments to ease hip pain. Once the pain subsides, it’s important to stabilise the joint through hip and lower back exercises.
Exercises and stretches that are recommended are the seated figure-four stretch to target the piriformis, a flat, pyramid-shaped glute muscle, and side lunges, which stretch your hip adductors.
You can also stretch your
Physician Chu advises that acupuncture treatment is effective for hip pain. Some of the acupoints that offer pain relief are shen shu (BL23,
To soothe numbness, your acupuncturist may use the wei zhong (BL40, 委中), cheng shan (BL57, 承山), kun lun (BL60, 昆仑), and yang ling quan (GB34 ,
If you’re not a fan of acupuncture needles, you’ll be happy to know that herbal remedies are an equally effective treatment option. Some of the formulas that Physician Chu recommends are:
Tao Hong Yin (桃红饮) for Phlegm and Stasis obstructing blood and qi circulation: Suitable for stabbing, localised pain in the muscles and joints, stiffness, deformity, difficulty flexing and extending the joints, thickening and hardening of the skin, skin discolouration, and a dark purple tongue with spots and a greasy white coating
- Yi Yi Ren Tang (薏苡仁汤) for Wind-Cold-Dampness Bi Syndrome: Suitable for hip pain, muscle and joint heaviness, swollen joints, hip movement difficulty, and a thin, greasy white coating on the tongue
- Bai Hu Jia Gui Zhi Tang (白虎加桂枝汤) for Wind-Dampness-Heat Bi Syndrome: Suitable for hip pain with redness and swelling, fever, thirst, dark yellow urine, and a red tongue with a greasy yellow coating
- Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (独活寄生汤) for Kidney and Liver Deficiencies: Suitable for hip pain, lower limb weakness, back stiffness, lumbar and knee joint soreness, cold hands and feet, and a red or purple tongue with a thin, dry coating
Easing hip pain is possible once you find out what is causing it. However, ensure you speak to clinical and licensed TCM practitioners before starting on herbal remedies or TCM treatments to avoid potential contraindications.
Have you used
- Versus Arthritis. HIP PAIN. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Better Health Channel. Hip disorders. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Bon Secours. Hip Tendonitis. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Cleveland Clinic. Trochanteric Bursitis. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Injurymap. Pinched Nerve in the Hip. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Cleveland Clinic. Hip Pain. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
- Mayo Clinic. Symptoms-Hip Pain. [online] [Accessed 25 January 2023]
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