The most common cause of hip pain in adults is osteoarthritis. The symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary from person to person, but the typical symptoms associated with hip pain include:
- Pain and stiffness in the hip joints. For example, you may find it difficult to put your shoes and socks on or to get in and out of a car.
- pain in the groin or outside the hip. This is often worse when you move the hip joints, although it can also affect you when you’re resting or sleeping.
Hip pain may also be caused by:
• the bones of the hip rubbing together because they’re abnormally shaped – a condition called femoroacetabular impingement.
• a tear in the ring of cartilage surrounding the socket of the hip joint – known as a hip labral tear.
• hip dysplasia – where the hip joint is the wrong shape, or the hip socket isn’t in the correct position to completely cover and support the top of the leg bone.
• a hip fracture – this will cause sudden hip pain and is more common in older people with weaker bones.
• an infection in the bone or joint – see your GP immediately if you have hip pain and fever.
• reduced blood flow to the hip joint, causing the bone to break down – a condition known as osteonecrosis.
• inflammation and swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) over your hip joint – a condition called bursitis.
• a hamstring injury.
• an inflamed ligament in the thigh, often caused by too much running – known as iliotibial band syndrome.
If you are suffering with any of the symptoms listed above, please refer to your GP before considering acupuncture.
The usual treatment for hip pain includes primarily, exercise and weight management, but also painkillers and anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, steroid injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and surgery.
How acupuncture can help
Several systematic reviews of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of peripheral joints/knee and hip/knee alone have concluded that it is statistically superior to sham acupuncture and to usual physician care, and similar in benefit to some other active interventions such as exercise regimes (Kwon 2007; White 2007; Manheimer 2007, 2010). All of these, together with the expert consensus guidelines of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (Zhang 2008, 2009), recognise that it has clinically relevant benefits and a favourable safety profile, and they recommend acupuncture as a treatment option for osteoarthritis. In addition, it has been found to be cost-effective.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress (Hui 2010).
Acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis by:
•stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
•inhibiting pain through the modulatory effects of endogenous opioids.
•regulating metabolism-related genes and pathways.
•inhibiting the activity of cytokines that are mediators of inflammation, including interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha.
•reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
•increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.
(Please contact me if you would like details of the research)