Do sharp pains in your hip make it difficult to get up in the mornings, move about during the day, and lie back down at night? Are your knees feeling painful, or even feel as if they may buckle underneath you without warning?
Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint that works to support the weight of your upper body, relying on multiple muscles and tissues to keep it mobile and stable so it can function properly. Your knee is a hinge joint, confined to forward-and-backward motions. Individually, your knees support more weight than the hips, 6 times your body weight when doing a squat. Proper movement of both your hips and knees allows complicated motions giving you the ability to stand, walk, run, and dance without falling over.
Pain felt in the hips and/or knees may originate in the joints themselves, but it may also be a result of an underlying condition in another part of the body. For example, your hips and knees are part of the same kinetic chain, meaning they make up a combination of weight-bearing joints that must function together in harmony in order for your body and posture to function properly. Therefore, a problem with your knee joint may transmit abnormal forces to your hips, and vice versa. If one part of the kinetic chain is out of balance, stress and deterioration may be placed on another.
Hip and knee pains can be experienced together or separately, but it is important to note that as the old saying goes, your knee bone is connected to your hip bone, therefore what happens with one, affects the other.
Many times, the hips and knees suffer the same diseases, disorders, and injuries. For example, overuse injuries such as tendinitis and chronic muscle strain are common in both the hips and knees because both joints are constantly in use. They are also both subject to acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, and dislocation.
Some painful conditions may be specific to one joint or the other. Cartilage injuries known as labral tears are specific to hip pain, while inflammation of the bursa sacs known as bursitis is a specific condition affecting the knee joint. However, painful injuries that cause instability in the hips can also affect the knees. Tight hip flexor muscles and weak gluteus medius muscles can cause the hip to rotate inward without you realizing it. This can cause painful problems such as iliotibial band friction syndrome or patellofemoral stress syndrome, as stress is put on the knee or kneecap.
After your physical exam is complete, our physical therapists will prescribe a physical therapy plan for you, aimed at relieving unnatural stresses and strains. They will also focus on normalizing your joint function so you can get back to living life comfortably.
You will be given targeted exercises designed for relieving joint pain and stabilizing the weak hip and/or knee tissues. The exercises may vary depending on your condition; for example, research has demonstrated that those suffering from patella pain (kneecap pain) tend to respond better to exercises that focus on strengthening both the hips and knees, rather than just focusing on the knees alone.
You may also be given exercises designed to strengthen the core, including your lower back muscle groups, lower abdominal muscle groups, or pelvic muscles. Core exercises are aimed at straightening your posture and equalizing the weight load on both sides of your body. Additional specialized treatments may also be added as our physical therapists deem fit, such mobilizations to improve joint movement or other soft tissue treatments that relieve pain and promote the healing of damaged hip and/or knee tissues.
The physical therapy treatments at Austin Manual Therapy Associates can help to greatly reduce your hip and knee pain. In many cases, your physical therapist can even relieve your pain altogether, sparing you the need for potentially harmful medication or surgical correction.