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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Can a Chiropractor Help Relieve Hip Pain?

how a chiropractor can help relieve hip pain

How Chiropractor Can Help with Hip Pain

Do you suffer from hip pain while running? Do you feel hip pain when you’re sitting, walking, or sleeping at night? Wonder if a chiropractor can help?

Hip pain is a common complaint, especially in today’s technological age of sitting 10 to 12 hours a day. Most people think of the hip as located on the side of the leg, but classic hip pain typically presents as a pinch in the groin near the bikini line and causes pain to radiate around the side of the hip and into the lateral gluteal muscle.

The hip bone is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints, a “ball-and-socket” joint that includes the top of the femur, which is the thigh bone, and the acetabulum, the socket located on the pelvis that the femur fits into. Strong tissue called ligaments connects the ball to the socket to stabilize the hip. A thin membrane called synovium lines the area to lubricate the joint, and fluid-filled sacs called bursae provide cushioning. Muscles surround the hip to allow for movement, and nerves and blood vessels run through the hip.

Hip pain can be caused by activity, such as running or lifting weights, which can lead to pinched nerves or strain in a tendon or sprain of a ligament.

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) can also be a cause of hip pain. In this condition, extra bone – called bone spurs – grows along the hip joint, typically along the upper edge of the acetabulum, creating an irregular shape that leads to friction, pain, and limited movement, usually external and internal rotation of the hip joint.

Hip pain can also be caused by a labral tear, which is a tear in the ring of cartilage in the hip joint socket. FA Impingement almost always occurs with labral tears. Piriformis syndrome, a common neuromuscular issue, can cause compression of the sciatic nerve and can lead to hip pain as well.

Sometimes, hip pain occurs simply from sitting since hip flexors get tight and contracted from prolonged sitting. The hip becomes compressed, and instability in the hip joint leads to grinding. Nowadays, so many of us sit upwards of 12 hours a day, often with poor posture that causes tension and pain in the joints. As a result, we overcompensate for injury or improper form, causing strain on other muscles.

Fortunately, diagnosing the specific cause and determining the right treatment plan can help to alleviate and reduce hip pain. You may be wondering, “can a chiropractor relieve hip pain?” The answer is yes! We’ll share the common causes and treatments along with how chiropractic care may be an effective treatment for your hip pain.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Common hip pain causes vary widely and have many options for treatment. Hip pain can be caused by arthritis, including juvenile, rheumatoid, and osteoarthritis. It can also be caused by injury to the joint itself, as in a hip fracture or dislocation, or it can be caused by injuries to the soft tissues and tendons surrounding the joint. Bursitis, tendonitis, inguinal hernias, and sprains or strains can all cause significant, long-lasting hip pain.

Other causes of hip pain may not originate in the hip itself. A herniated disc or trauma to the sciatic nerve can cause significant hip pain, as can spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space in the spine that places pressure on the spinal cord) and meralgia paresthetica (caused by compression of the nerves). More severe hip pain causes can include bone cancer, leukemia, or metastatic cancer that has spread to the bones. Osteoarthritis, however, is the most common hip pain caused in people as they age.

Many conditions can cause hip pain, varying from acute and treatable to more serious conditions for which treatment options are more limited. Here are the five most common hip pain causes.


Joints in the body have fluid-filled sacs called bursa that serve as cushions between the bones and muscles. In the hip, the purpose is to allow the joint to glide smoothly when you walk, run, sit, and stand. These sacs can become inflamed from trauma or overuse. It happens most often in people whose jobs require repetitive motions, such as people who work manual labor or play sports. When bursitis occurs in the hip, pain can radiate from the hip to the buttocks and groin and down into the thigh. The pain can make it difficult to lay on the affected side of the body. As a result, it interrupts sleep.


Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between your joints to break down, resulting in pain and a limited range of motion. A peculiar trait of this condition is that one can actually feel the hip bones rubbing or grating against each other with movement. There may be swelling and tenderness in the hip. It’s more likely to occur in senior adults, people who are overweight or obese, or who have suffered an injury to the joint.


Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone. Hip tendonitis usually occurs from additional stress on the hip. This could happen after suddenly increasing the intensity or frequency of exercise instead of acclimating the body to the extra workout. Symptoms include stiffness after long periods of inactivity (such as getting out of bed in the morning or getting up from a chair after sitting for hours).

Labral Tear

The labrum is the cartilage in the hip sockets. It can become torn from injury (often sports-related) or advanced age. If the tear is minor, there may not be any symptoms; but a more serious injury will result in the hip “locking” with movement, as well as hip pain that radiates to the groin.

Snapping Hip Syndrome

This condition is easier to recognize because it causes a snapping sensation and sound with hip movements, such as; when getting out of bed, walking, sitting down, or standing up. In an athlete, it can interfere with performance.

Stress Fracture

These are hairline fractures in the femoral neck that occur due to repetitive movements. While most people tend to think of the elderly with the mention of hip fractures, they can actually happen at any age. Many patients are involved in high-impact sports, long-distance running, or military training.


There are certain circumstances that can cut off the blood supply to the bones in your hip, resulting in cells inside the bone dying. Risk factors include hip dislocation, certain medical conditions (such as lupus, sickle cell disease, or Gaucher’s Disease), or excessive consumption of alcohol). Symptoms include pain, throbbing, and difficulty bearing weight on the hip.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Sitting for extended periods of time causes hip flexors to tighten and shorten. Hip flexors are the muscles in the front of the hip that allow one to lift the thighs. If the flexors are tightened, they will eventually cause weakness and imbalance in the hip.

Common Treatments for Hip Pain

In some cases, hip pain is nothing more than a short-term annoyance, while in other cases, it can be a sign of a serious health problem. If you have mild to moderate hip pain, you might want to try an at-home treatment. Basic treatments for all types of hip pain include:

  • Rest. Avoid doing things that require you to bend at the hip or put a lot of pressure on the hip. Avoid sleeping on the side of your hip that is painful and sitting for long periods of time.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Some pain-relieving medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help reduce inflammation that might be causing or aggravating your hip pain.

  • Cold and heat. Treating pain with heat and cold may help. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel to ice your hip. A warm bath or shower may also help reduce your pain and prepare your muscles for stretching.

  • Stretch. Gently stretching your body may reduce hip pain, especially if the cause is a strain or pinched nerve.

If you know what’s causing your hip pain and the cause is not severe, there are things you can do at home to reduce your pain.


Acupuncture is a developing medical discipline that shows promise in reducing hip pain from most causes. Those with infections or blood clotting issues and people who are afraid of needles should avoid acupuncture.

Hydrotherapy and Physical Therapy

Hydrotherapy is a form of physical rehabilitation that can encourage movement and uses temperature and pressure to encourage blood flow throughout the body. This can reduce pain in the hips. Standard physical therapy treatments can also help reduce hip pain in patients with arthritis, strains, tears, tendinitis, and other less severe hip problems.


There are various types of drugs for conditions that weaken bones or cause bone loss and pain, such as arthritis. These include:

  • Counterirritants. Creams and ointments containing capsaicin, the substance that makes peppers spicy, can reduce pain in the joint area.

  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic (DMARDs). Drugs like Trexall and Plaquenil are used often to treat RA. They stop or slow the immune system from attacking the joints.

  • Biologic response modifiers. Drugs like Enbrel and Remicade can also stop or slow immune responses.

  • Corticosteroids. Drugs like prednisone and cortisone can reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. They are taken orally or injected into the painful joint.

  • Bisphosphonates. Drugs like Alendronate, Risedronate, Ibandronate and Zoledronic acid can strengthen bones weakened by osteoporosis, preventing pain and further damage.

  • Hormone therapy. Hormones are sometimes used to treat osteoporosis in women.

Chiropractic Treatment for Hip Pain

A person may be able to use chiropractic care to complement other evidence-based treatments, such as medication, surgery, or physical therapy. However, the research on chiropractic care and hip pain is not conclusive, so it is a good idea to consult a doctor before visiting a chiropractor.

A chiropractic adjustment for hip pain and leg pain is a type of alternative medicine. During treatment, a chiropractor manipulates the joints or soft tissues to achieve alignment in the body.

Although some people report that chiropractic care has helped their hip pain, the evidence to support this treatment is limited. Much of the research on the topic is in the form of case studies that only involve one individual or studies that appear in journals with an interest in promoting chiropractic care, making them not entirely reliable sources.

People who wish to try chiropractic care for their hip pain should first contact a doctor to discuss the treatment options.

Chiropractors can treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, but they do not treat emergencies, such as broken or fractured hips. If a person has an acute injury, they should contact a doctor.

Most often, chiropractors treat a person in recovery from an injury. For example, a person who receives medical treatment for a broken hip might still have pain or mobility issues afterward. In this case, they may decide to contact a chiropractor.

hip chiropractic adjustment

Chiropractors are not medical doctors, so they do not complete medical training. Instead, they graduate with a doctor of chiropractic degree. In the United States, chiropractors must have attended a Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) accredited college and hold a license to practice.

Type of Hip Pain that Chiropractors Can Treat

Some of the conditions that a chiropractor may treat include:

  • Chronic pain: This pain may result from a specific condition or have no clear cause. Chiropractors may also help people who have somatic symptoms, which means that psychological distress causes them physical pain.

  • Femoroacetabular impingement: This occurs when abnormalities of the thigh bone, hip socket, or both cause abnormal contact during hip motion. It can be painful and affect a person’s range of motion.

  • Hip dysplasia: In a person with hip dysplasia, the hip socket does not fully contain the thigh bone, sometimes causing partial dislocation of the hip. Hip dysplasia is often a congenital condition.

  • Spinal issues: Issues with the spine can cause low back or hip pain, as well as mobility problems.

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a group of joint disorders that can cause pain and movement issues. Chiropractors treat many types of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.

  • Injury recovery: A person may have a wide range of injuries, such as broken bones or soft tissue injuries, that cause pain. A chiropractor can help treat injuries or support recovery after a person heals.

How Chiropractors Can Treat Hip Pain

Early chiropractors believed that most types of pain originate with spinal subluxation, which is a slight hip misalignment of the spine. However, contemporary chiropractors have moved away from this theory.

A 2016 study advocates for chiropractors to become general musculoskeletal practitioners who focus on spinal pain. Many modern chiropractors still focus on the spine as a source of pain, and they may look to problems with the spine or back to explain hip pain.

The specific treatment that a chiropractor chooses to use will vary, and it might not depend on the type of injury. Instead, it may depend on the type of pain and its source.

As chiropractic care is a type of alternative medicine, the processes of diagnosis and treatment do not always match those of medical care. The recommended treatment plans can also vary among chiropractors.

However, if a person visits a chiropractor, they can expect the following:

  • manipulative therapies, which involve moving the joints and muscles

  • mobilization of the joints by moving the legs or hips

  • exercise and physical therapy recommendations

  • soft tissue treatments, such as electrical stimulation or massage

During a visit to the chiropractor, a person can expect an initial visit to be similar to an appointment with a medical doctor.

First, the chiropractor will ask about symptoms and health history. They may discuss treatment goals, current medications, and lifestyle factors. In some cases, they may take X-rays or carry out a physical exam. Some chiropractors work in doctor’s offices or hospitals. Others partner with physical therapists and other alternative medicine professionals.

Lower Back and Hip Pain Management

Chiropractic care may help some people with hip pain. However, research on chiropractic manipulation has not caught up with the anecdotal evidence from proponents, and there are no recent well-designed studies proving that it can treat or cure hip pain.

hip pain management

This does not mean that chiropractic care does not work. Instead, it means that chiropractic care remains an alternative therapy until more evidence supports it. A person may find that it serves as a beneficial complementary therapy to evidence-based medical treatments. Anyone interested in receiving chiropractic care for hip pain should speak with a doctor first.

If you’re interested in getting help from chiropractic, Natural Care Chiropractic can help. Our trained experts can perform manual manipulation and other alternative treatments to help manage any lower or hip pain. Schedule an appointment with us today and find out if Chiropractic care is right for you.


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