Home: Running Tips : Hip pain in runners

Hip pain in runners ! One of the most common running injuries.

"Hip injuries, bursitis, ITBS, snapping hip explained :) "

hip pain in runnersThere is no doubt about it: runners are susceptible to hip injuries,hip pain and long term hip conditions when running. Hip pain in runners are such conditions as hip bursitis, snapping hip and ITBS. These can be painful, even disabling - and they can create havoc for your running career!

So, knowledge is power - and one of the best ways to protect yourself from these hip injuries is to learn about them.

Find out,

  • what the symptoms of the most common hip injuries in runners are
  • the treatment of hip pain in runners
  • and how to avoid developing these hip injuries in the first place.

Main thing for hip injuries and running is to find out the cause for the problem.

Ok, lets go ;)

Let's have a closer look as some of the most common hip injuries from which runners, even well practiced and experienced runners - may fall victim to:

Hip bursitis, the snapping hip, ITBS and "the dark horse" : upper hamstring injuries.

Hip Bursitis. A cause of hip pain in runners that often can be easily fixed.

hip bursitisHip bursitis is a common problem. It creates pain around the outside of the upper thigh.

Basically, this painful condition gets its name from the "bursa" - sac filled with fluid that we all have around our joints.

This bursa is a good thing to have as the fluid allows for the smooth movement between two uneven surfaces - i.e. your bones.

We all have a bursa between the two bony bits over the outside of the hip - the greater trochanter and the hard tendon that passed over this bone.

Your pain will thus be :

  • On the outside of the hip.
  • About in the height when you stand with your arms to the side of your body - and right where your hands start.
  • You feel a "bony" thing there, that is the greater trochanter.

Ordinarily, all is well with this bursa, but if it becomes inflamed, you're in for a painful jolt each time the tendon slides over the bone - which is basically every time you move your hip of your leg : a regular occurrence for runners!

  • Unfortunately, runners can commonly get this condition.
  • Even more unfortunately, this injury is often overlooked.

I have seen it myself with many runners that could have been quite easily treated. Instead they have continued for months with the same kind of nagging pain in each stride.

Hip bursitis may be diagnosed by pain or swelling over the bones you can feel at the top of your hip. Any good physiotherapist (not always good to trust the doc ! ) will be able to palpate this.

From there, an x-ray will ordinarily be carried out to confirm the diagnosis and discount bone spurs or calcified growths.

If you, a runner, get a diagnosis of hip bursitis, this is what you can do :

The first course of treatment is to control the inflammation, through rest and anti-inflammatory medication;

  • Icing the area can also help to alleviate the pain and swelling.
  • Long-term, the bursa may need to be drained by a doctor, using a needle into the affected area.

A course of cortisone injections may also be prescribed.

You should not be afraid of cortisone shots in the bursa. This is a "sac", so an injection into the sack is only positive - no negative effects (as long as the doc has a steady hand!) as no tissue outside it is affected (like tendons,muscles).

So cortisone shots are often discussed, but for bursitis, it is a "common" understanding that is is perfectly ok.

To prevent the injury recurring, once this bursitis attack has been alleviated, you will need to undergo physical therapy which strengthens and stretches the muscles and tendons in this area of the iliotibial band.

Plus, main thing :

  1. Know what caused it (usually too intense training/too much running combined with strength work in a short period of time)
  2. Try and massage up the muscles with cross friction massage on the outside of the hip. This is often much more effective than strength work and stretches.

Better toned muscles and tendons should then glide more easily and not cause hip bursitis to flare up again in the future.

If you follow this advice, surgery to remove the bursa should not be necessary except in extreme circumstances.

Snapping Hip. Unpleasant and sometimes painful!

Second of the hip pain injuries in running : snapping hip

In this unpleasant condition, a snapping sensation, and maybe even an audible popping noise from the hip may be experienced.

Usually, this snapping hip syndrome is caused by tendons catching on bones protruding at the hip.

This can be due to three main causes:

1. As a result of the Iliotibial Band snapping.

This wide, thick tendon covers outside of the hip joint. This can unfortunately lead to hip bursitis, as discussed above.

2. Iliopsoas Tendon Snap is less common.

It is caused when the tendon which should slide over the front of the hip joint catches on the pelvis.

This can be annoying but is not usually as problematic or as painful as the above cause of snapping hip syndrome.

3. A hip labral tear is the least common cause of snapping hip syndrome.

It is a tear of the cartilage within the hip joint, which can then become loose and cause a snapping sensation when the hip is moved.

snapping hipUsually, a pop can't be heard, but the person suffering it may experience instability within the hip and so feel uneasy on their feet.

Snapping hip syndrome - whatever the reason for it - is usually diagnosed by way of x-rays to see whether there are any bony growths or bones sticking out around the joint which may be rubbing and causing the popping.

However, these are usually normal.

Diagnosis may later involve an MRI scan if a tear in the hip cartilage is suspected, but this can be difficult to ascertain.

Thererfore, to find a good clinical doctor and see the common signs of the injury is always important.

How can I treat snapping hip syndrome ?

Often, treatment of snapping hip syndrome is not needed.

It could be that once the person is reassured that there is nothing seriously wrong with them that they are happy to put up with a bit of musical accompaniment to their movements!

However, anti-inflammatory injections and possibly cortisone injections can help.

Stretching the muscles and tendons through physical therapy can also be useful in alleviating the symptoms of a snapping hip.

It is rare that surgery is needed for this condition, but if the pain is severe and last a long time, then surgical procedures to relax the tendons or to remove the torn cartilage can be carried out.

Moving forward. To Illibitial Band Syndrome. One of the major running injuries in general.

ITBS -Itiotibial band syndrome and hip pain in runners.

itbsIliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is caused by an inflammation of the iliotibial band, the tendon that runs around the outside of the hips on both sides of the body.

The iliotibial band also runs down the outside of the leg.

The iliotibial band runs from the hip to the shin, finishing just below the knee joint.

Together with several of the thigh muscles, the iliotibial band acts to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint.

ITBS occurs when this band becomes inflamed or irritated.

The pain is usually felt at the knee, around the end of the thigh bone where the iliotibial band crosses over the bone and the muscle.

There should be a bursa here, which makes it easy for the iliotibial band to slide and the leg to move easily.

However, if there is inflammation, it can't do that and pain ensues.

This pain usually gets worse with exercise and improves with rest.

Causes of ITBS in runners and treatment.

ITBS is commonly developed in runners when they seek to increase the number of miles that they run. Or run them too intense at a pace that does not have enough variation.

It can also occur in those who have an awkward gait, such as in people who are bow-legged.

  • Treatment begins with ensuring that footwear is good and supports movement, as well as icing the affected area.
  • Anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections may be prescribed.
  • A system of stretching exercises is also good treatment for ITBS, after a period of rest to recuperate from the injury.
  • Low-impact cross-training can also be useful in strengthening the muscles which will help to prevent a recurrence of ITBS.
  • It is rare that surgery is needed and certainly all these other treatments would need to be tried first.

In addition to this get some cross friction massage on the muscles. If done correctly, this can release much of the stress in the area and resolve the problem completely !

Once you are "healed" from the injury, remember to do more variation in your training paces to prevent this injury to re-occur.

We are now approaching the end of the article about hip pain in runners.

Wish you all the best with the injury prevention, treatment and future running!

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