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Pain from the hip to the knee: 4 ways PT can help you treat it

We will dive into the world of aches and discomfort, specifically the kind that can set up shop in your hip and extend down to your knee. It can impact your daily activities and overall quality of life. There are a variety of potential causes for this type of pain that can range from musculoskeletal issues to more complex medical conditions. Understanding the possible causes, available treatments and physical therapy’s role in helping address hip-to-knee pain is crucial for effective management. 

What can cause hip-to-knee pain?

If you’re experiencing a nagging pain that’s making itself at home from your hip down to your knee, there are several possible culprits behind this issue:

  • Hip bursitis — The bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help cushion your joints. These bursae can become inflamed or irritated thanks to activities like running or repetitive movements. This pain can make its way from your hip down to your knee.

  • Hip osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that symptomatically affects as many as 1 in 4 people. This condition can affect the cartilage in your hip joint, causing it to wear down. As the cartilage wears away, it can cause pain that radiates from your hip to your knee.

  • Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome — Your IT band is like your body’s natural rubber band running down the outer side of your thigh. When the IT band gets too tight or inflamed, it can cause pain to shoot down your leg to your knee. IT band syndrome accounts for approximately 12% of running injuries.

  • Sciatica — The sciatic nerve is the longest in your body. It runs from your lower back down to your toes. If this nerve gets irritated or compressed due to a herniated disc or muscle spasms, you can experience pain that travels from your hip to your knee.

  • Muscle strains or tears — Overdoing it at the gym or engaging in intense physical activity can lead to strains or tears in the muscles around your hip. When these muscles are misbehaving, you may feel the repercussions down your leg, reaching to your knee.

  • Hip labral tear — The labrum is a ring of cartilage around your hip socket. A tear in the labrum can cause hip pain that can radiate down to your knee. Injuries or structural abnormalities can be the cause of labral tears.

  • Hip fracture or dislocation — Trauma or falls can result in hip fractures or dislocations. These can cause immediate pain in your hip that can extend down into your knee. These injuries require immediate medical attention. 

Treatments for hip-to-knee pain

Once the potential troublemaker of your pain has been identified, you can begin to address the pain to help it heal. Treatments for knee pain can include:

  • Pain medication — Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help you manage pain and reduce the inflammation you’re experiencing. In more severe cases, your medical provider may prescribe other medications to help ease your pain.

  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy can be a beneficial treatment to help manage hip-to-knee pain. Physical therapists can design personalized treatments to help improve your flexibility, strengthen your muscles and correct any imbalances contributing to your pain.

  • Injections — Your health care provider may recommend corticosteroid injections to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. In some cases, injections can provide you with temporary relief and allow for more effective pain management with physical therapy.

  • Orthopedic interventions — Surgical interventions may be considered for conditions like labral tears or severe osteoarthritis. Procedures like hip arthroscopy or joint replacement may be recommended based on your underlying issues.

How physical therapy can help your hip-to-knee pain

Physical therapy can be the key to unlocking your relief from hip-to-knee pain:

  • Dry needling Dry needling is done by a certified physical therapist who inserts thin, sterile needles into trigger points. This technique can stimulate muscle release and ease pain that is associated with conditions like hip bursitis or muscle strains.

  • Graston Technique® — The Graston Technique uses specially designed stainless steel instruments to detect and break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions. It can benefit conditions like hip osteoarthritis or hip labral tears, helping improve mobility.

  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM)IASTM uses tools to help detect and treat soft tissue issues. It can provide pain relief for IT band syndrome and muscle strains. The controlled pressure can help enhance tissue function.

  • Manual therapyManual therapy techniques, like joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization, are pivotal in helping a wide range of hip conditions. It can help relieve pain associated with sciatica, muscle strains, and even hip fractures or dislocations.

Hip-to-knee pain can be an incredibly unwelcome guest, but you can help send it on its way with the right approach. There are options to help ease the discomfort and get you back to doing what you love without wincing at every step. The personalized touch of physical therapy can help you on your way to a future filled with activities that bring you joy.

Back in Motion can keep you moving and smiling on your journey to hip-to-knee pain relief

Back in Motion can be your beacon of hope for dealing with your hip-to-knee pain. Our expert team of physical therapists can provide you with targeted pain relief. Combining specialized interventions with our personalized treatment plans can help alleviate your pain and empower you with the tools and knowledge for long-term well-being. We understand that each patient is unique, and we strive to guide you on your journey toward a more active life.

Call us or request an appointment today and let’s work together to tackle your pain.

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