There are many causes and forms of hip pain. One hip pain cause is tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis). This refers to an inflammation of the tendons in your hips. Hip tendonitis can be debilitating, but there are plenty of ways to manage and treat it. In this article, we discuss what hip tendonitis is, what causes it, and how you can treat it.
What is hip tendonitis?
Your tendons are like cords that connect your muscles to your bones. You have tendons all over your body, from your hands and feet to your legs and hips. When your tendons become inflamed or irritated, this is called tendonitis. Depending on the tendon that is causing the trouble, you may also see this condition referred to by other names. For example, other names for hip tendonitis include tendinopathy, iliacus tendonitis, and iliopsoas tendonitis.
But what does hip tendonitis feel like? Your symptoms may include hip:
You might notice that your pain gets worse when you perform certain activities. These symptoms don’t always stay in the hip either. Your hips are complicated joints that are crucial to the healthy function of your back and lower body. Because of this, any condition that affects your hips may also affect other body parts.
If you are experiencing pain in your legs, glutes, or groin in addition to pain in your hips, all of your pain may be the result of the same condition—hip tendonitis.
What causes hip tendonitis?
Participating in certain sports or activities can increase your risk of developing hip tendonitis.
For example, dedicated runners are more likely to develop hip pain, including hip tendonitis, due to the stress running places on their hips. Gymnasts, ballet dancers, and anyone else who moves their hips in repetitive, stressful ways is also at increased risk. This is especially true if you exercise improperly, e.g. you jump straight into the most intense part of the workout without properly warming up.
However, you don’t necessarily have to be an athlete to develop hip tendonitis. If you have an unusual gait (e.g. if one of your legs is longer than the other), the additional strain your walking style puts on your hips could lead to tendonitis.
Do I have hip tendonitis?
How can you tell if your hip pain is caused by tendonitis as opposed to something else? It isn’t always easy.
For example, hip osteoarthritis can cause symptoms very similar to those of hip tendonitis, including inflammation, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and pain that radiates out to other body parts. However, the causes of osteoarthritis are very different from the causes of tendonitis. They include age, obesity, and prior injury.
As if that wasn’t enough, hip tendonitis is frequently confused with hip bursitis. However, this condition affects the bursae (fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bone against direct contact with other body parts, including the tendons) rather than the tendons. There are two main kinds of hip bursitis: trochanteric bursitis and iliopsoas bursitis. Each affects a different bursa and a different population. Bursitis and tendonitis are closely linked, though, so it may be difficult to figure out which one you’re suffering from.
Hip tendonitis pain can also feel similar to hip flexor strain. This condition affects the hip and leg muscles. Try lifting your knee towards your chest. If your pain gets worse as you do this, then you might have hip flexor strain rather than tendonitis. Like hip tendonitis, hip flexor strain often afflicts athletes.
Because hip tendonitis shares so many symptoms with other conditions, it’s especially important to see a doctor about your hip pain. Only a doctor can diagnose the exact cause of your pain so you can get the appropriate treatment.
During your appointment, your doctor will examine you and go over your medical history. They may also use other diagnostic techniques, such as a CT or MRI scan, to confirm that tendonitis is the cause of your hip pain.
Once you receive a formal diagnosis, you and your doctor can move on to discussing possible treatments.
How do you treat hip tendonitis? 8 approaches
If you’re suffering from hip tendonitis pain, there are multiple treatment options available to you. Some are relatively basic, while others require professional help and intervention.
Try simple, noninvasive solutions first. If those are not effective or your pain is severe, work with your doctor to find other more appropriate options. Often, they’ll counsel you to combine noninvasive, complementary therapies with more invasive procedures for the best results.
The most important thing you can do to treat tendonitis is to rest. Because physical stress may cause or exacerbate hip tendonitis, maintaining your usual level of activity is not a good idea. Doing so is likely to lead to more pain and potentially permanent damage.
If your hip pain makes it difficult for you to sleep at night, there are a number of solutions you can try to alleviate your nighttime hip pain. Experiment until you find the right method, or combination of methods, for you. Some solutions include sleeping with bolster pillows or in different sleeping positions to find relief.
How long should you give your hips a break? That will depend on how severe your tendonitis is. Be sure to consult your physician, and above all, listen to your body. If a particular activity makes your hips hurt more, back off.
Once you do start feeling better, you can gradually increase your daily activity until you reach your pre-tendonitis level. ‘Gradually’ is the operative word here; as we mentioned, accelerating your workout too quickly can make hip tendonitis worse.
Heat and cold therapy
The Cleveland Clinic recommends both heat and cold therapy for tendonitis, depending on what outcome you are seeking. Heat therapy—for example, using a heat pack or wrap—is better at relieving persistent, aching pain. Cold therapy—which can include anything from an ice pack to a bag of vegetables wrapped in a towel—will numb pain for short-term periods.
Be careful when using heat or cold therapy so that you don’t accidentally worsen your pain. Placing the source of heat or cold directly against your skin, or leaving it in place for too long, can lead to burns. Generally, apply cold therapy for ten minutes at a time and heat therapy for twenty minutes at a time, unless a physician advises you otherwise.
Stretches and exercises
At first glance, it may seem strange to recommend exercise as a treatment for hip tendonitis. After all, in many cases, too much exercise is what causes tendonitis in the first place. But while some exercises, like gymnastics, can make hip pain worse, others can provide relief from tendonitis pain. This resource has recommendations for different exercises.
Make sure you are performing all exercises properly. If your hips start to hurt or tire, stop and rest a while. And when you return to doing your preferred exercise, take sensible precautions. For example, if you are a runner, don’t accelerate too quickly, and don’t wear ill-fitting or uncomfortable running shoes.
You can take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help reduce pain. These are best to use for short, acute flare-ups of pain. Don’t rely exclusively on these medications to treat your pain. Instead, use them after undergoing physical therapy or exercise that works at treating the underlying cause of your pain.
All medicines have their side effects, too, so be sure to read the labels carefully. Always consult your physician before starting any new medications. Topical treatments, such as pain-relieving creams, may also help.
Many people turn to physical therapy with hip pain. A physical therapist combines multiple forms of treatment into one exercise and mobility plan that’s tailored to your specific needs.
To start, your physical therapist will examine you and design a treatment plan just for you. This plan may include any number of treatments, from joint manipulation to special exercises to recommended lifestyle changes. You may have nightly stretching regimens along with strengthening exercises. The goal for these plans are to increase mobility and range of motion, while building up strength in the area.
By adhering to the routine devised by your physical therapist, you can help ensure maximum recovery, including pain reduction and increased range of motion.
Chiropractic primarily involves joint manipulation and adjustments. Look for a well-trained, licensed chiropractor to see if they can help with your hip pain.
This treatment involves applying heat to the affected area, but it goes far beyond regular heat therapy. A chiropractor or physical therapist will use ultrasound (sound waves) to penetrate deep into the tissues of your hip, heating your tendons.
There has been a good deal of debate about whether or not ultrasound therapy works. If you use ultrasound therapy, go into it with reasonable expectations. Ultrasound does work in the sense that it will heat parts of your body that heat wraps and hot showers just can’t reach. But it won’t speed up the healing process, and any positive effects you feel may very well be the result of a placebo effect.
That said, ultrasound therapy is not likely to do you any harm, even if it doesn’t do you any good. Just remember that ultrasound therapy is not a miracle cure. You shouldn’t rely on it as the sole, or even primary, method of treatment.
Injections and surgery
The majority of patients won’t need interventional procedures or surgeries to help with their hip pain. However, if you’re suffering from severe hip pain that hasn’t responded to other treatment approaches, these approaches might represent a treatment approach that could help. Consider them only if other treatments have failed to adequately relieve your hip pain, and in concert with other complementary techniques like physical therapy or exercise.
Doctors often prescribe cortisone or corticosteroid injections in cases where pain is caused by inflammation, such as hip tendonitis. Joint injections can help relieve inflammation in the affected area, providing short or longer-term pain relief for patients.
Corticosteroid injections, in particular, should be administered with caution. The longer you take them, and the higher the dose you are injected with, the more likely you may develop side effects. Work closely with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of this treatment before deciding if steroid injections are worth the risks.
By contrast, cortisone injections are generally safer than corticosteroids. But as with all treatments, they still require a discussion with your doctor.
In extreme cases of hip tendonitis, your doctor may recommend tendon repair surgery. A surgeon will physically move the painful tendons into a less strenuous position, or remove anything (e.g. bone spurs) that may be irritating your tendons. While drastic, this procedure can help some patients get their life back.
Get help with hip tendinitis pain
If you’re suffering from chronic or severe pain in your hips, there is help. A pain specialist can diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and discuss the treatment approaches that could work for you.
By using a comprehensive approach that combines noninvasive therapies with interventional procedures, when warranted, a pain specialist can help you relieve your pain and get back to your life.
The first and most important step is a diagnosis. To get one, you can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.