Sudden, sharp hip pain could be a symptom of hip conditions such as osteoarthritis, tendonitis, or femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), all of which involve inflammation of specific joint structures.
These conditions along with other hip conditions can be caused by muscle imbalance, limited hip range of motion, or muscle weakness.
When the range of motion (ROM) of a joint is limited and the muscles are not used in their full range, it can result in muscle imbalance. That is, some of the muscles are stronger, and some are tighter than the other muscles attached to the same joint. This pulls the bone in the wrong direction, which can lead to poor postural alignment.
Muscle imbalance, poor postural alignment, and limited ROM could speed up the wear and tear of joint structures, compress a nerve, and lead to overuse (and limited use) of the surrounding joint muscles, which can result in pain, inflammation, and mobility issues.
How Can I Check My Hip Range of Motion?
The hip has three degrees of freedom, which means that it can move into flexion and extension (moving forward and backward), abduction and adduction (moving sideways towards the inner and outer side of the body), and internal and external rotation (moving inwards or outwards such that the knees are pointing in or out).
Hip ROM is usually measured by a doctor or a physical therapist using different measurement tools.
If you would like to assess your ROM on your own, lie on your back and do the following:
- For flexion/extension: Raise one leg up while the knee is straight.
- For abduction/adduction: Spread your legs shoulder-width apart, then move one leg outwards, with knees straight and toes pointing up. Next, move your leg inwards toward the opposite leg.
- For internal/external rotation: With your legs shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and let one knee fall inwards. Next, cross your leg such that the ankle is just above the knee of the opposite leg.
Compare how each leg feels while moving and at the end of the movement. Also, check if one leg has a greater range than the other when performing these movements.
Why Are Rest and Ice Insufficient to Resolve Hip Pain?
When you experience pain, the common thing to do is to rest. You may also put ice if you notice any swelling. Rest and ice may help reduce the pain and swelling but they will not address the main source of the pain.
Most injuries are a result of poor posture and muscle imbalance (weakness and limited range of motion). This is why you have to consult your doctor and/or your physical therapist so you can be guided on how you can improve your flexibility, strength, and posture during specific activities. Taking these measures can help you avoid future hip pain.
How Do You Fix a Sharp Pain in Your Hip Without Injections and Surgery?
Hip exercises consisting of flexibility and strengthening exercises that move your hips and legs in a full range can help address muscle weakness, limited range of motion, and poor postural alignment. Having an active lifestyle could also help prevent injuries to the hip.
If you are already experiencing pain that does not get better, it is best to consult your physical therapist so you can be guided on the correct exercises to be done and how you can progress your exercises safely and effectively.
Dr Aarti is an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) from Baroda Medical College (The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda). Dr. Aarti has also completed her Masters of Medical Science and Technology from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.