Lateral hip pain (pain on the outside portion of your hip area) is a particularly common problem we see. It occurs most frequently in perimenopausal women, with around 23% of women experiencing it between the ages of 50 and 70 years old (1). It has in the past been referred to as trochanteric bursitis but in studies examining the cause of the pain, we now know that this is not the whole story. It has been demonstrated that gluteal tendinitis (more correctly known as tendinopathy) is commonly associated with lateral hip pain and trochanteric bursitis (2). As both conditions occur together, it is now termed Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome (GTPS).
What Causes Hip Pain?
Many factors are surrounding the cause of GTPS. Given how common it is, gender and age can’t be controlled. One factor that can be influenced and is often a significant cause of GTPS is overloading the gluteal tendon(s). Overloading a tendon, whether it is from abnormal movement patterns, or weakness of the stabilising muscles, can eventually result in a very painful tendon and inflamed bursa. Habitually standing on one leg or crossing legs whilst sitting are common predisposing factors for this to occur.
How to Manage Hip Pain?
When the pain is acutely inflamed, it is best to manage this before starting your rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of your inflammation or the duration of the condition, your options include relative rest, anti-inflammatory gels, or prescribed anti-inflammatory tablets. Once the inflammation has reached a manageable state, the next focus is rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation typically focuses on education, load management, minimising habitual postures, and movement patterns that contribute to the ongoing nature of the condition and addressing strength deficits. Your management plan will be tailored to your specific goals and needs. Once your strength has reached a level for you to operate daily without pain, your management plan can now progress to reaching your ultimate goals.
Common Mistakes for Hip Pain
There are several common mistakes in managing lateral hip pain. Pushing through or trying to ignore the pain and hoping that it will settle, is probably the most common. Only dealing with the condition by taking medication or having a cortisone injection and not addressing the problem of underlying weakness or poor movement patterning is another familiar story. Gait re-education is often important. Having worked hard during your rehabilitation, it is important to maintain your improved changes to posture and movement patterns to prevent a recurrence.
While all this may seem complicated and daunting, don’t worry, lateral hip pain is quite treatable. Our physiotherapists at Fairfield Physiotherapy are experienced in helping patients through each stage of the recovery. If you have GTPS, get in touch and ask how we can help you.