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Managing hip pain - a case study

  • Guest blog by Senior Physio, Tom

Some of you will have met Kate.

Kate works hard in everything she does in her life. She works hard on our reception, works hard studying physiotherapy and she works hard with her sport and training.

Kate’s Pain

When Kate isn’t working in our reception area, she is busy studying Physiotherapy, attending lectures and tutorials and doing practical placements to get much needed hands-on experience.

In her spare time she plays a lot of netball as a centre courter…

I get tired just thinking about her schedule!

Juggling all of these different roles, Kate has noticed pain at the front of her hip when she ramps up her activity. This typically occurs for Kate during the first few weeks on her feet in a busy ward on her placements, or the first few games of the netball season. Sometimes she finds this eases, and other times she finds it doesn't and inhibits what she is able to do.

With Kate’s background knowledge, she knows not to let these things go unassessed, as that can lead to further issues and injuries later in the season.

Kate describes a sharp pain when running, which settles to an ache after activity ceases.

There has been no specific injury; this is something that built up over time.

Assessment and Treatment

In Kate’s initial assessment we will spend some time getting to know her injury, ensuring we know about the history of Kate’s issues, when pain occurs, any past medical history and also her goals from physiotherapy.

This allows our therapist to create a list of structures and issues they would like to test.

Our therapist will then lead Kate through some physical activities and also perform some tests to narrow down problems and get to a specific diagnosis.

In Kate’s case it is important to assess if there’s any referral coming from the Lumbar spine, assess for structural issues within the hips and also test functional muscles to find any imbalances.

In Kate’s case we found that structurally the hip and lower back are structurally sound, but there is a muscle imbalance between the muscles in the front and back, leading to hip overload.

When Kate gets busy she is asking more of her hip’s muscles than they can tolerate, and this leads to grippy, tight sore muscles. Treatment in this case is thankfully quite straightforward, some soft-tissue release for symptom management, and a specific strengthening programme to engage the gluteal muscles and improve function.

Kate’s strengthening programme will be specific to her, starting with ensuring gluteal engagement and then progressing to functional activities. For Kate and her netball this would involve engagement and control when jumping and landing, as well as some plyometric drills.

Other options include Pilates exercises and gym-based strength training. Because our therapist took time to get to know Kate and her likes/dislikes, these exercises can be tailored to suit Kate’s needs, boosting compliance, and ensuring the best possible outcomes! 

Is Physiotherapy for me?

Hip issues like this are very common in people who are juggling active lifestyles with roles that involve more sitting, such as students and office workers. A recent review reported that up to 10% of sport-related injuries each year were hip related injuries.

A recent look at the state of pain in Australia, reported that 14.3% of the general population experience hip pain on an ongoing basis. Much of this is treatable and preventable.

If you are struggling with a hip injury, whether it be similar to Kate’s or a little bit different, our team of dedicated physiotherapists can discuss your issues and concerns, assess the hip and come up with a treatment plan for you.

This may entail seeing a doctor or referral for scans, but often it involves a mix of some hands-on therapy combined with exercises to boost function, improve performance and decrease symptoms.

You do not need a referral to start seeing us. Give us a call, or click the link below, to book an appointment with our team of experts, and we can get you back on track.


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