If you get hip pain when you lie on your side, get up after sitting for awhile, or go for a stroll, you may be suffering from a painful hip condition called Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome, or GTPS. While hip pain caused by GTPS can be incredibly disabling, recent scientific research backs up our experience treating sufferers within the clinic, that education and exercise is the key to early pain relief and full recovery.  

One in four women aged over 50 years old suffer from GTPS (also known as Trochanteric Bursitis). Due to it disrupting sleep and limiting physical activity, it can be as disabling as having hip arthritis. The majority of people coming to us suffering from hip pain due to GTPS will mention its long term effect on their health and well being, as well as the psychological and emotional impact

It’s mostly believed to affect peri- or post-menopausal women due to reduced oestrogen levels, wider shaped pelvis’ and reduced muscle strength. Furthermore, women perform postures and activities that cause excessive shearing stress on the tendon and bursa of the hip. These postures include sitting cross legged or with knees together and feet wide apart, and standing lazily with all the weight over one leg.

Symptoms of GTPS include:

  • Pain over the outside of your hip.
  • Pain radiating down the outer thigh or towards the buttock.
  • Often associated with low back or knee pain.

Activities that cause hip pain:

  • Lying on the sore hip. Even lying on the good hip with the sore hip on top may hurt.
  • Going up or down stairs.
  • Sitting crossed legged, with knees together or with ankles crossed.
  • Rising from a low chair or couch.
  • Driving and getting in/out of the car.
  • Putting on socks/shoes.
  • Prolonged standing or standing with most of your weight on the sore leg, or “hanging” on your hip.

Treatment for hip pain caused by GTPS:

A very recent study has revealed that education and exercise demonstrated the quickest pain relief and recovery times. Improvement in pain was greater and quicker than frequently prescribed cortisone injections. 

Essential steps of treatment are – 

Step 1 – Education. Know which activities to avoid, or at least minimise. Avoid lying on your side, sitting cross legged or with knees together. If you’re a side sleeper lie on your good side with a thick pillow between your knees. Stand evenly on both feet. Sit with a pillow, or posture wedge under your bottom on the couch or in the car. 

Step 2 – Find a Physiotherapist who understands this condition. Tight muscles of the hip and thigh increase the pain to your hip. Getting regular treatment, or even massaging yourself will help reduce this stress on your hip.

Step 3 – Strengthen your bottom! Simple exercises that work the gluteal muscles while keeping your knees at least hip width apart are the best place to start. You may also need to reduce how far you walk in the short term to give your hip a break whilst the tendons heal. And remember, I said reduce, NOT stop. Physical activity is still important for full recovery. 

Step 4 – Be patient. While your symptoms will reduce relatively quickly (within a few of weeks for most people), it typically takes anywhere from 2-4 months for full recovery, and it’s not unusual for symptoms to fluctuate weekly, or even daily. 

Hip pain can be incredibly disabling and emotionally distressing, particularly if you’re experiencing it day in, day out. However there are great treatment options out there. If you’re struggling, see your physiotherapist who can help guide you through the treatment journey. 

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