Why you should never ignore hip, thigh pain

By Dan Skulavik - Contributing columnist

The hip is an important weight bearing joint in the human body. Repetitive stress to the femur (thigh bone) over time can lead to the formation of cracks in the hip joint, which is the junction of the pelvis and the femur. For most individuals, simple cracks can heal over time without the need for surgical intervention. For others, it may escalate into a fracture.

A fracture can occur in one of three possible locations – at the top near where the femur joins the pelvis, in the middle of the thigh bone, or the bottom near the knee joint. The femur reaches a breaking point with a fall (a particular risk for seniors), vehicle accident, or during competitive sports.

Regardless of the location of the fracture, an individual will experience extreme pain and movement restriction. Tingling or numbness in the area may accompany the pain, along with swelling and possibly the inability to walk. If left untreated, complications may include uncontrolled bleeding, blot clots, infection and pneumonia.

The femur is a major weight-bearing bone and the rate at which it heals is dependent on factors such as age and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes. Full recovery can take approximately 12 weeks to several months and may require surgical intervention. Thomas Edison once said, “There is time for everything”. We live in a very busy world, and it’s easy to ‘ignore the pain’ and just carry on. But as your physical therapists, we can tell you that it’s important to make time for a physical therapy evaluation if you have any pain or discomfort.

If you have hip pain, it’s important to rule out a fracture in the hip joint and seek an orthopaedic assessment with a physical therapist right away. This will protect your balance, ability to walk unhindered, eliminate pain and improve bone strength. Depending upon the severity of the injury and the stage of recovery, physical therapy may involve a combination of exercise, stretching, balance training and pain relief modalities.

When the correct movement pattern is reinforced in the muscles and joints, the process of recovery begins. This is called ‘neuromuscular re-education’ and includes a variety of advanced techniques to speed up recovery. Massage under the guidance of the physical therapist can help relieve pain and improve mobility. Several exercise programs can be prescribed to build core strength to aid in balance and fall prevention. In some cases, the therapist may recommend mobility devices such as crutches and canes.

Let’s face it – no one wants to be in crutches or have to struggle to walk. Hip pain can impact every aspect of life, from getting out of bed in the morning to driving and walking. The good news is that physical therapy has two significant benefits for anyone with hip pain:

1. Improve healing so you have less pain and can get back to doing the things you enjoy doing.

2. Prevent further damage to the hip joint and reduce your risk of falls.

The benefit of physical therapy extends beyond strength improvement in the hip joint and pelvic muscles. This can also help reduce or treat low back pain, improve posture and boost the quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing hip discomfort, please have them contact our physical therapy office. We are committed to serving your needs and improve the health and well-being of everyone in our community.


By Dan Skulavik

Contributing columnist

Dan Skulavik is the physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy in the Food Lion shopping center.

Dan Skulavik is the physical therapist at Advanced Physical Therapy in the Food Lion shopping center.

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