What can I do about hip pain when walking?

  • Post category:Hip Pain
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Hip pain can interfere with every movement you make throughout the day, from getting out of bed to crouching down to tie your shoelaces. But it’s especially difficult if it occurs while you’re walking, as walking is an action that’s difficult to avoid on a day-to-day basis. The average U.S. adult walks up to 4,000 steps per day.

It’s important to address hip pain when walking as soon as possible to reduce the risk of furthering the issue and decreasing your mobility. There are many injuries and medical conditions that can result in hip pain, from osteoarthritis to a fracture. The right diagnosis and treatment can make a notable difference. 

We’ll talk about what you can do about hip pain when walking, including a variety of physical therapy treatment options. We’ll also discuss the benefits that you can gain by exploring these types of therapy for your hip pain.

How to relieve hip pain when walking

When you feel persistent or worsening hip pain as you walk, your first course of action should be to talk to your doctor. They’ll likely do a physical evaluation of your symptoms and gait. If necessary, they’ll order lab and imaging tests, such as X-rays or ultrasound. They’ll determine whether the pain is from an injury or a medical condition that requires long-term assistance.

Since walking is unavoidable for many people, it’s important to be proactive about hip pain to reduce the negative impact that it can have on your mobility and overall quality of life. While it may be tempting to just rest as much as possible, walking can actually be beneficial for hip pain, even if that’s when it flares up. A lack of movement can cause the affected joints and muscles to stiffen.

There are many treatments worth exploring to alleviate your hip pain. Some treatments can be done on your own, while others may require assistance and insight from a health care professional, such as your physician or a licensed physical therapist.

Here are a few ways to help relieve hip pain while walking:

  • Take prescribed medication — If you’re looking for temporary relief from your hip pain to make walking a bit easier, ask your doctor about medication. They will determine if it’s a safe option based on the cause of your pain and your medical history. They may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. 
  • Try a pain relief cream — Along with oral medication, your doctor may recommend a pain relief cream that can be applied directly to the hip. Many topical ointments and creams provide temporary relief for muscle and joint pain. Some work to reduce the pain by numbing the area with ingredients like lidocaine. Others help reduce inflammation, such as those that include diclofenac. 
  • Use an assistive device — If you’re recovering from a hip injury or surgery that’s contributing to your pain, it can be beneficial to use an assistive device as you walk, such as a cane. While it’s important that you still work the affected hip flexors and joints as you walk, using a cane can reduce the force felt in your hip with each step. It can also provide temporary support during a flare-up of a hip pain condition, such as arthritis.
  • Change your footwear — Proper alignment between the hips and feet is essential for being able to walk comfortably and effectively. That’s why it’s important that your feet are given the support they need. You don’t want your hips to overcompensate for the stress on the affected joints and muscles. Getting properly fitted shoes with the right amount of support for your foot’s shape can place less pressure on your hips. You can also ask your doctor or physical therapist about supportive orthotics or shoe inserts.
  • Adjust your posture and gait — It’s possible that your hip pain is flaring up while you walk due to your posture and gait, which is the position of your body as you walk. If your muscles aren’t balanced as you walk, it can place excessive strain on your hip, leading to pain. You can provide the proper support to your hips if you walk with a neutral spine while engaging your core muscles. A physical therapist can help you make the proper adjustments for your gait and posture.
  • Get manual therapy — If you’re experiencing persistent or worsening hip pain, hands-on therapy from a licensed physical therapist can make a notable difference. Manual therapy involves the therapist using their hands to alleviate the pain and increase the area’s overall function and mobility. When it comes to hip pain, they may use mobilization or manipulation techniques to loosen up the tight tissue to release the tension and increase range of motion.
  • Perform safe exercises — Effective strengthening exercises and stretches can help alleviate your hip pain while improving the overall quality of the area for better function while walking. Hip strengthening exercises, such as hip extensions and flexions, can improve the support and stability of the affected muscles. Stretches like external hip rotations can improve your hip’s flexibility and range of motion. A physical therapist can guide you through the exercises that will be safest for your hip.
  • Try dry needling — To help move your hip along the healing process after surgery or injury, you may benefit from therapeutic dry needling. This practice is performed by a physical therapist and involves the use of thin filament needles. The needles are inserted into the affected area to stimulate muscle spasms. When the muscles are relaxed, they will release the tension that’s causing hip pain while you walk.  

Why you should seek physical therapy to alleviate hip pain while walking

It can be easy to just shrug off hip pain, or hope that medication and new shoes will do the trick. While mild or temporary hip pain isn’t always a call for concern, it’s important to know when it’s time to seek a licensed physical therapist.

If your hip pain while walking continues to impact your overall quality of life, it can be helpful to seek a physical therapist. We’ve briefly mentioned how they can help you through treatments such as exercises and recommendations for foot support. By learning about the benefits that you can gain from them, you’ll be able to see how they can help with your overall health and wellness.

The benefits of seeing a physical therapist for hip pain include:

  • Pinpointing the likely cause of hip pain while walking.
  • Pain management.
  • Increased muscle strength for joint support.
  • Improved flexibility and range of motion.
  • Accelerated recovery from injury or surgery.
  • Improved hip function.
  • Postural and gait adjustments that can benefit the whole body.
  • Lifestyle change recommendations.
  • Reduced risk of fall or future injury.

Excel Rehab & Sports can help you relieve hip pain while walking

Since walking is essential to the everyday lives of most people, it’s important that it’s as comfortable for you as possible. If you’re experiencing hip pain while you run errands or walk your dog, then it’s time to see how the physical therapists at Excel Rehab & Sports can help.

At Excel Rehab & Sports, we use our knowledge and experience to determine the likely source of your hip pain, alleviate the pain, and improve the hip’s overall function for the future. We’ll design a personalized treatment plan just for you, which can include everything from dry needling to postural adjustments. 

Call us or request an appointment today if you’re experiencing hip pain while walking.