No matter its causes or symptoms, hip and leg pain are conditions that affect so many people. Treatment options vary widely, from at-home treatments for acute forms of leg pain to acupuncture to injection procedures for nerve-related leg pain.
In some form, though, all hip and leg pain sufferers are alike–they’re out there looking for treatment options that can help reduce the amount of pain that they feel.
During this month on Inside Pain Doctor, we’ve been looking at the many ways sufferers can prevent, reduce, and treat their forms of hip and leg pain. Some treatment options you’ll see here will be more invasive, however, we always try to balance these approaches with holistic lifestyle changes for maximum impact.
Cutting-edge pain treatment options
At Pain Doctor, we take pride in presenting the newest forms of pain therapies and treatments. We may not be able to provide all of these options at our clinics yet, but we can look forward to new pain management therapies for the coming years. In addition, it helps paint a greater picture of the direction pain treatment is headed for our patients.
1 of the more interesting treatment options we’ve seen recently includes intensive virtual reality programs for treating phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain–pain that persists after an amputation–is often difficult to treat as there is no actual body part where the pain is being produced. Instead, researches suspect that damaged nerves or scar tissue near the amputation site send mixed signals to the brain that then cause the experience of pain. A new form of virtual reality therapy combines virtual representations of the missing limb performing tasks with electrodes attached to the amputation site to engage the area of the brain that controlled the limb’s movement.
Another new line of study has helped develop ChondroFiller Gel, a gel collagen implant that could help people suffering from knee osteoarthritis. By stimulating the self-healing growth of the knee’s existing cartilage, these implants can begin to help the knee fill in existing defects caused by osteoarthritis. The new gel treats more substantial injuries, while a similar liquid can treat minor defects. Unlike existing collagen therapies, ChondroFiller
- Requires only 1 procedure
- Has a much faster recovery time than other surgery options
- Is low-priced and covered by many health insurance agencies
A common treatment that Pain Doctor does offer are injections for nerve-related leg pain. Injected medications can provide a low-risk and long-term option for pain relief from hip and leg pain conditions like sciatica and peripheral neuropathy. The injections include an anesthetic to block pain signals and, oftentimes, a steroid to reduce inflammation.
Another treatment for hip and leg pain that is offered at Pain Doctor is TENS unit therapy. This month, we discussed its use with sciatica pain in particular. As we noted in the original post:
“Approximately 70% to 80% of patients experience pain relief during their initial use of TENS unit therapy. The success rate drops to 20% to 30% after a few months. However, if the initial relief of pain allows the introduction of gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching, TENS unit therapy can ultimately lead to very long-lasting relief of pain.”
Managing common leg and hip pain conditions
Unfortunately, conditions like sports injuries, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis are relatively common causes of leg and hip pain.
For sports injuries, in particular, prevention is key. We suggest going into new exercise programs thoughtfully and with your doctor’s knowledge. Once you start, ramp up your intensity gradually and always include a warm-up prior to exercise. This simple act alone can prevent many sports injuries from occurring. Just as importantly is rest. If you feel pain or have become injured, give yourself the opportunity to heal completely before resuming exercise.
Other posts this month discussed options for treating 2 bone conditions: osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Osteoporosis, caused by a reduction in bone density, is best prevented with simple lifestyle changes. A diet high in calcium and vitamin D, alongside strengthening exercises, can help prevent osteoporosis. When pain management is needed, the following treatments may be considered:
- Pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills or opioids
- Spinal nerve block injections
- TENS unit therapy
Osteoarthritis is characterized by the chronic degradation of the cartilage that cushions the joints. Treatment options for this hip and leg pain condition range from weight loss to the use of assistive devices to joint replacement surgery.
Alternative and at-home therapies
As noted, no pain management plan is complete without incorporating less invasive treatment methods that complement more invasive treatments. This month, we looked a few options for treating and preventing hip and leg pain.
- Homeopathic remedies: Homeopathy is a popular treatment option that is based upon 3 principles: like cures like, the law of minimum dose, and the single remedy. When used to treat hip and leg pain, homeopathy provides a low-risk alternative for managing pain naturally.
- Acupuncture: This 2,500 year old treatment method still attracts over 3 million people in the U.S. every year. Acupuncture has been found to be effective for treating many conditions, including post-operative nausea and hip pain from osteoarthritis. When used for hip osteoarthritis, 75% of patients realized pain relief.
- Herbal and vitamin supplements: Nature’s bounty provides numerous options for helping prevent and treat hip and leg pain. Our post discusses some of the supplements that have received the most empirical proof for pain management.
- Diet: Diet is crucially important. You can help reduce inflammation and prevent future hip and leg pain by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin D. Other foods especially known for their anti-inflammatory components include salmon, turmeric, and olive oil.
- Exercise: Just as important as diet is exercise. An appropriate exercise routine can help strengthen muscles, maintain bone density, protect the joints, and release feel-good endorphins.
If you suffer from hip and leg pain, what treatment options have you pursued? Which worked best for you?
Image by Torrey Wiley via Flickr