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Get Rid of That Pinched Nerve in Your Hip
Are you suffering from pain and discomfort in your hip? If so, then your symptoms could indicate a pinched nerve in the hip. For some, pain in the hip is a nagging nuisance. However, for others, it is a constant affliction that prevents them from walking normally. It can even prevent a typically active person from participating in things that he or she loves.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however.
There are some things that you can do on your own (or with professional help) to ease the pain of a pinched nerve. In fact, some treatments can even reverse the problem, preventing future flare-ups and painful symptoms.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at what causes a pinched nerve in the hip.
Understanding the Hip
The hip joins the top of the thigh bone (femur) into a rounded socket in the pelvis. This ball-and-socket joint assists with bearing the body’s weight. In addition, this complex structure moves the leg back and forth and allows for leg and foot rotation.
Strong muscles in the thigh, leg, buttocks, and lower back all facilitate this movement. Furthermore, tendons and ligaments connect these muscles to our bones. Articular cartilage lining the joint also works to decrease friction as the bones slide past one another in the hip joint.
If you’ve been suffering from hip pain, you’ve probably heard of a condition called sciatica. But, did you know that the sciatic nerves are the body’s two largest nerves? Your sciatic nerves originate in the lower back (or lumbar spine) and pass through the buttocks. Then, each nerve branches off to travel down a leg and into the feet.
Nerves, like the sciatic nerve, are the main communication lines from the brain to the rest of the body. Nerves have several functions. For example, they dispatch the signals that order muscles to contract. In addition, they send important sensory input to the brain.
When the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, it leads to sciatica. This is not a medical condition, but merely a description of a set of symptoms. Sciatica always results from some sort of underlying medical condition.
But, why does this happen?
Sciatic Nerve Pain Causes
As the name suggests, a pinched nerve occurs when pressure is applied to a nerve. This compression can disrupt the nerve’s ability to send and receive messages. More alarmingly, nerve compression may damage the nerve, possibly leading to permanent non-function.
Is a pinched nerve in hip preventable?
Short answer: Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
There are several reasons why you may develop a pinched nerve in the leg or hip. Some causes are preventable, whereas may result from unavoidable factors such as aging or wear and tear on the body.
For example, the intervertebral discs found between each vertebra tend to break down and lose shape as we age. This may cause the body to form more bone mass in an attempt to reinforce the area. These new bits of bone are called bone spurs. Sometimes, as they form, they narrow the canal where the nerve roots exit the spine. This often leads to a pinched nerve.
Likewise, pregnancy can be another cause of sciatica. As a woman’s body prepares for delivery, the pelvic muscles loosen. These loose muscles, along with the added weight, can cause pain in the groin and down the leg in females.
And, yes, extra body weight can affect the nerves. Being overweight or obese applies added pressure to the bones and joints. Remember: The hips are responsible for supporting much of your body’s weight. The burden of excess weight may alter hip structures and pinch the sciatic nerves.
You may also be wondering: Do you have to be older or obese in order to develop a pinched nerve?
Not at all. Overuse of the hip, especially during repetitive work or vigorous physical activity can also lead to pinched nerve pain.
What are Sciatica Symptoms in Hip?
When a nerve becomes pinched, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Since the sciatic nerve has several roots, symptoms will depend on which root(s) are compressed. In many cases, these symptoms will affect only one leg.
- A burning sensation or sharp, shooting pain. Although it can occur anywhere in the leg and lower back, it is most common below the knee.
- Stabbing pain in the groin.
- Buttock pain when sitting.
- Worsening pain while sitting or standing for a long time. Pain may also be felt while bending the spine forward, getting up from a sitting position, and even coughing.
- Tingling, numbness, or a “pins-and-needles” feeling in the back of the leg.
- Weakness in the leg or foot. It may feel difficult to raise your foot off the floor.
- Loss of reflexes in the ankle or knee.
- Trouble sleeping. Pain may intensify while lying down.
So, exactly how long does a pinched nerve last?
Sometimes, these symptoms will come and go. Other times they may be severe and interrupt your daily functioning. For minor nerve irritations, symptoms may go away with a little rest and activity modification. More often, however, people suffering from sciatica experience relief after 4 to 6 weeks of nonsurgical treatments.
About one-third of people dealing with sciatica have symptoms that last up to a year. Severe nerve compression accompanied by progressively worsening symptoms may require surgery.
Ready to get rid of your sciatica symptoms? Let’s get started.
Treating a Pinched Nerve in the Hip
If you start noticing the symptoms of a pinched nerve, it’s best to address them right away. One of the first lines of defense is resting the area. This gives the body a chance to heal. Take it easy for a few days. Try to avoid overworking the hip or lifting heavy objects.
In addition, using heat and/or ice therapy can reduce minor symptoms such as inflammation in the area. Using an ice pack can also reduce swelling. Alternately, a heat pack or heating pad helps to increase circulation to the joint. This not only provides some relief, but it may also speed up the healing process.
Some over-the-counter medications may assist with pain. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen sodium or ibuprofen may be effective for minor to moderate sciatic pain.
Try making small changes in your daily habits that may benefit your hip. For example, if you usually carry objects in the same hand, try switching it up. Try to raise the height of your office chair to put less strain on the hip. If you wear high heels or other uncomfortable shoes, consider switching to more supportive shoes. And, of course, if a certain exercise or activity is making your condition worse, consider alternate physical activities.
If these simple fixes aren’t helping, it may be time to consult with your doctor.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Groin Nerve Pain
Most individuals dealing with a pinched nerve start with more conservative treatments. These treatments often provide pain relief.
Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. During physical therapy sessions, you learn to perform exercises for sciatica that alleviate a pinched nerve in the hip. This includes stretching and strengthening the muscles and other soft tissues in the buttocks, hip, lower back, and abdomen. Aerobic conditioning, such as pool therapy or walking, may also be effective.
What’s the advantage of going to a physical therapist or athletic trainer? A trained professional can help you develop a routine and suggest activity modifications based on the underlying cause of your pain. An individualized treatment plan may be much more effective than finding a couple of random hip exercises off the internet.
Other professionals may also provide relief for your pinched nerve. For example, a chiropractor can perform adjustments and manual manipulations of the spine. These techniques seek to improve spinal alignment and address the underlying conditions associated with a pinched nerve.
A massage therapist may also assist with your hip pain. Deep tissue massage can relax tight muscles and improve blood circulation. Moreover, licensed massage therapists have a deep understanding of sciatic pain and how to relieve it.
Prescription medications can also relieve pain effectively enough so that one could successfully complete physical therapy or hip exercises. If over-the-counter medications aren’t sufficient, a doctor may prescribe oral steroids, anticonvulsants, and/or opioid analgesics. Some medications may be habit-forming, however. These should be administered exactly as prescribed and on a short-term basis.
Therapeutic injections may also be considered. Injections deliver the medicine directly to the source of the discomfort and help your doctor identify the affected area. Steroid injections, for example, control inflammation that contributes to your pain. Moreover, nerve block injections can decrease the pain transmitted by a nerve.
Pinched Nerve in Hip Surgery
If you’ve tried nonsurgical methods to no avail, then you still have options. Surgery is generally indicated for those who have increasing neurological issues or don’t achieve effective pain relief after a month or two of conservative treatments.
The goal of surgery is to eliminate the cause of sciatica. For example, if a herniated disc is pressing on the nerve, the surgeon may remove all or part of the disc. This procedure, known as a microdiscectomy, uses minimally invasive techniques to reduce damage to surrounding tissues.
Likewise, if parts of the spinal bones or joints cause compression on the sciatic nerve, a surgeon can remove bony portions or degenerated joints.
Unless it is a medical emergency, choosing surgery is generally up to you. Surgery can provide better long-term pain relief.
Discovering WhichTreatment Works Best for You
You want the pain to stop. You don’t want to worry if the numbness and muscle weakness are going to worsen progressively.
So where can you turn?
You ultimately want to choose a team of professionals who will perform a comprehensive evaluation and listen to your specific needs and treatment goals.
Our spine team at New York City Spine will help you examine all of your treatment options. With a team of experienced surgeons and conservative treatment experts, we can effectively treat your pinched nerve based on your preferences and medical needs.
Headed by Dr. Frazier, a Harvard-trained, board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon, you will have the comfort of knowing that a compassionate team will choose the latest treatments and techniques to help you enjoy a happier, more comfortable life.
Stop wondering how you will get better. Schedule a consultation today!
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