Hydrotherapy & Aquatic Equipment for Hip Pain

Everything you need to know regarding water therapy to relieve Hip Pain.

Overview of Hip Pain

Pain in the hip is widespread. Hip pain can affect both children and adults and have various causes. If you have persistent hip pain that persists, you should see an orthopaedic specialist.

The Hip joint is one of the largest joints in our body, designed for both a wide range of movement and stability. It is a ‘ball and socket' joint made up of a deep acetabulum (socket) and a large femoral head (ball). The hip joint is deep enough to provide good bony support. Injury, strain, or degeneration to cartilage, ligaments, or muscles around the hip joint are a common cause of pain in Australia.

The hips are the scaffolding joints of the body which hold the top to the bottom of the body stable and working in harmony together. They are the precious joints that enable your legs to move freely and work towards allowing you to perform everyday movements such as sitting and standing, bending, and lifting.

The pain that is felt in the hips can range from:

• A small niggle

• Nerve pain

• A dull ache

• A cramping sensation

• A grinding sensation

• Burning pain

• A pulling pain

• Pain that severely restricts movement

Sometimes, there is no explanation for why someone suffers from hip pain, which can be infinitely frustrating if there is no explanation for the pain experienced. However, there can also be a catalogue of mechanisms of injury and influences that can cause hip pain, such as:

• Arthritis of the hip - Osteoarthritis is the most common, especially in people older than 50

• an injury

• Direct trauma to the affected area

• A muscle strain or unusual movement

• Sitting for an extended period

• An inflamed tendon or other inflammatory conditions

• An infection

• Pinched nerves

• Immobility or lack of exercise

• Being overweight

• Lower back problems

• Disorders from pregnancy such as SPD (PGP)

• Previous trauma to a surrounding area

• Muscle and tendon strains and damage

These are just a selection of aspects that can be potential causes of hip pain. There can, of course, be other factors, such as infection, undiagnosed disease, and referred pain from different areas of injury.

What is Hip Pain?

Hip pain is exactly as it sounds, a pain in the hip area, either directly in the joint or around the hip area as far down as the upper thighs or even the lower back.

Hip pain can range widely in severity from a slight ache or pull that may go away over a short period of their own accord.

Commonly when someone sufferers from hip pain, they will have more long-term pain and mobility issues or find that the hip pain is recurrent and may increase with severity.

The pain that is felt in the hips can affect many other aspects of daily life, including:

• Walking

• Sitting

• Standing

• Driving

• Sleeping

• Concentration

So it is crucial to manage hip pain as effectively as possible to reduce the levels of pain and reduce the impact that pain may have on other areas of your life.

Who is more likely to suffer from Hip Pain?

Hip pain may not ordinarily differentiate between genders; however, there are more reported incidences of hip pain in women.

Pain in the hips, either in one or both of them simultaneously, may appear at any time in life. Still, it is said to be more prevalent in those over 50 if the causes are environmental, or indeed straight from birth if there have been some complications at birth or congenital disabilities have been acquired.

Some specific professions can cause or indeed exacerbate hip pain, and these can include:

Office workers- Those who sit down for extended periods can cause or exacerbate hip pain by putting prolonged pressure on the spine in an unnatural position, which is why correct workplace ergonomics are crucial.

Manual workers- Those who have manual jobs can find that they are more predisposed to hip pain due to the nature of their career, especially those who do a lot of repetitive movements such as bending, lifting, and twisting.

Those with mobility impairments- Having something that causes someone to be immobile or in the same position for extended periods, such as those who use wheelchairs, can actually drive and exacerbate hip pain. The lack of mobility works towards weakened hips, which can cause pain and discomfort.

Physical professionals - such as dancers and performers are more predisposed to hip pain due to excessive and repetitive motions on the same pressure points.

Regardless of how hip pain occurs, most people who suffer from it will say that it causes varying degrees of pain and may also reduce the quality of life for that person by restricting certain areas of life or movement, either through the feeling of discomfort or physically being restricted from the pain.

Symptoms of Hip Pain

Hip pain is often diagnosed through a person's account of how the lower back region feels to them. While diagnosis can be difficult, it is often weighted on several factors, such as:

• Severity of pain

• Mechanism of pain

• Any direct injuries

• Any infection markers (such as bursitis or inflammation)

• Age

• Career 

• Many people suffering from Hip Pain say that they have at least some, if not all, of these symptoms:

• Deep, achy joint pain

• Muscle spasms

• Reduced range of motion

• Stiffness during rest periods

• Tenderness in the hip area

• Loss of flexibility

• Grating sensation

• Nerve or shooting pains

• Swelling

• Inability to "get going" straight away

Risk factors 

Risk factors for hip pain include:

• Age  

• Overweight 

• Direct trauma  

• Indirect trauma to surrounding areas

• Reduced levels of mobility

• Muscle weakness  

• Repetitive body movements 

• Infection  

• Muscle and tendon damage or atrophy

• Previous hip pain

• Underlying deformities or congenital disabilities

• Bone disorders 

• Surgical interventions such as hip replacements

Water Therapy & Hip pain

People who have hip pain may find that traditional exercise is too painful and puts too much exertion on the affected hip or hips. Attempting to perform exercise when it causes pain may cause a person to shy away from activity or avoid it altogether due to the amount of pain and discomfort it brings.

Gravity inadvertently puts pressure on the hips during most exercises that include weight-bearing on your feet. Weight-bearing is an inevitable part of land-based exercises, which are difficult to avoid.

The buoyancy of water and the support it gives during exercise may relieve a lot of this pressure simply by providing a different action to gravity, one that supports the body to reduce some of the pressure points and stress areas of the body when in motion. 

Hydrotherapy exercises can be a good recommendation for those who suffer from hip pain. It is a way of performing activities people could not ordinarily achieve on land without feeling varying degrees of pain and discomfort.

A study on a Water Rehabilitation Program in patients with Hip Osteoarthritisbefore and after total Hip Replacement as showed a positive effect. The study found a significant reduction of pain, increased ranges of motion, increased muscle strength, and reduced need for pain medicines.

Deep and achy joint pain:This is common in hip pain. Water helps provide an ideal environment for patients to exercise due to the buoyant force that acts as a counteraction to the downward pull of gravity, therefore reducing the overall weight placed on the joints, especially on the hips.

Previous studies around hydrotherapy have shown that around half of the body's weight is supported when in waist-deep water. In contrast, a massive 90% of a person's weight is supported if the submersion is neck-deep. 

Patients who suffer from hip pain can often not perform traditional land-based exercises due to increased pain created by the impact. 

In a wholly supportive medium such as water, patients can perform similar strengthening or endurance exercises with the benefit of gentle resistance and a reduction in pain on exertion. 

Reduced range of movement:This can be both a cause and a symptom of hip pain. The water will physically support you and help prevent excess stress on the muscles and the joints in the hips. The buoyancy the water provides can make exercise easier to achieve without the fear that the pain is too much to bear. 

Hydrotherapy helps increase the range of motion that you can achieve while in the water and improves your overall mobility. 

Stiffness during rest, especially if you have been static for an extended period, can occur in the affected areas of the hips.

Many people who suffer daily from the pain in the hips will say they feel stiff when they have been static in the same place for too long. The pain is generally reported in the area affected directly and the neighbouring regions such as the lower back and thighs. 

Exercising in water is an excellent form of physical therapy as it allows the muscles and stiff joints to relax and release stiffness, therefore potentially easing pain.

Joint pain: The pain of someone who suffers from hip pain may range from a slight ache to a burning or shooting pain. 

The buoyancy that comes as part of working out in water helps support the surrounding muscles around the hips while strengthening them for support, making it easier to balance and hold a good posture that otherwise may be too painful to achieve on land. 

Tenderness:Your hips may feel delicate and tender when applying light pressure on or around the affected area, especially when attempting land-based exercise. 

The element of the water physically surrounding and supporting you as you exercise physically prevents stress on the affected area and will help you mobilise easier than if you were on land, increasing confidence in your movements.

Loss of flexibility:By carrying out a workout when submerged in water, you will have the ability to improve your flexibility and range of movement because of the pressure and support created when the water is surrounding you.

Swelling:Swelling is a symptom of hip pain likely caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joints, which is a natural response the body has to protect the damaged area.

In an attempt to soothe swelling, water therapy can assist in reducing the swelling by adjusting the temperature of the water. 

For instance, hydrotherapists may introduce cold water to help reduce inflammation, while therapists may also use warm water to aid better circulation.

Tender points:These points are areas of tenderness in the affected areas of the body. Preventing excess stress on these tender points as you move in the water will help you be more confident in moving around and reduce the pain you feel.

Water Therapy Equipment & Hip Pain

An Aqua Bike is an excellent piece of aquatic equipment that can help alleviate the symptoms of Hip Pain and enables exercise with minimal pain as it can:  

• Reduce stiffness in the hips

• Reduce impact on the hip joint 

• Build strength in the support structures for the hips, knees, quads, glutes and ankles

• Reduce hip pain when mobilising

• Relieve tenderness in the joints and muscles in the hips

• Improve the range of mobility

• Help to avoid after workout pain

• Provide physical relief for any continual pain

• Improve flexibility in the hips and any affected areas

An Aqua Treadmill is also an excellent piece of equipment that can help relieve the symptoms of hip pain and enables exercise with minimal discomfort as it may : 

• Improve mobility without impact-related pain

• Increases muscle function for strength

• Relaxes the tense muscles surrounding the back and hip region

• Improves posture and spinal positioning

• It soothes tired muscles and tendons and allows more pain-free movement

Note: Please seek medical advice before exercising & always train under the advice your medical specialist.


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