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Herman & Wallace Blog

Hip or Pelvic Pain – The Chicken or the Egg?

The following is contributed by faculty member Ginger Garner, who teaches the Hib Labrum Injury course. You can read more about that course on the Herman & Wallace course page.

Hip labral injury (HLI) is a relatively new diagnosis in the last 10 years of orthopaedic and rehabilitative care. However, just because HLI is a new diagnosis doesn’t mean the injury is new. In fact, HLI is posited to be responsible for the premature aging and osteoarthritis of the hip joint and pelvis that leads to hip replacements. HLI is also a major source of hip pain, with groin pain being the most common subjective complaint.However, groin pain is not the only complaint that is associated with HLI. Pelvic pain commonly goes hand-in-hand with hip pain.

What does this mean for patients? If you have hip or pelvic pain you should be evaluated by an HLI specialist, which can be a PT, surgeon, or osteopath who has received additional training on managing HLI. It is critical that you see someone who specializes in HLI. If HLI or other hip or pelvic injury is suspected, it is important that you follow up with a physical therapist who has had advanced training in HLI rehab for the best chance of recovery.

I find the premenstrual cycle pain (usually 1-5 days before the cycle begins) is a common phenomenon with many women with HLI (operative and non-operative), which is an area that needs more attention in research. Some women say it feels like they have retorn their labrum, and as a result, they get fearful – which affects not just their physical functioning but their psychoemotional and social well-being.

They limit activity which can exacerbate faulty neuromuscular patterning and deconditioning and result in increased pain from faulty structural support. Their realm of social activity and self-efficacy can suffer, which is also not good for long-term well-being.

Additionally, sleep can be interrupted with HLI and pelvic pain, which can dysregulate the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) Axis and cause further problems with issues like pain centralization, cortisol dysregulation, and digestion. A recent study correlated vulvodynia and FAI (femoracetabular impingement), a type of hip impingement commonly found with HLI. The study found that those women who received early surgical intervention received the most relief from vulvodynia, while those who had a longer duration of pain did not experience the same level of improvement.

The take-home message is that early intervention for HLI is absolutely critical for the best long-term prognosis, and that pelvic pain, which can include anything from vulvodynia, dyspareunia, interstitial cystitis, non-relaxing pelvic floor/myalgia, pudendal neuralgia or entrapment, athletic pubalgia, and/or continence issues, although a common occurrence with HLI, is not normal and should be addressed by a trained pelvic rehab professional.

Want more? Read my post about Hip Labrum Tear Risk: Why Early Care is Critical, is absolutely necessary for the best long-term prognosis.

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