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I'm 33 and male. I've had pain in interior of my left hip for the past 5 years or so. I first noticed the pain when playing recreational ultimate frisbee. I have since stopped playing, but the pain comes back whenever I stress my legs. This happens now when I go hiking, running, or even moving furniture around the house.

I lean slightly to my left when I walk. This puts some additional stress on my hip which hurts.

Also, my hip clicks sometimes. I lie on my back and bring my left knee forward towards my chest. When I extend my leg back out, it pops/clicks. It never happens with my right leg.

The pain has been getting more frequent. I don't want to take Advil every time I exercise. Are there any strengthening exercises I can do which will help stabilize my hip and prevent pain? I've had great success with shoulder rotation exercises, which have stopped my left shoulder pain.... anything similar for hip, or is it a different type of problem?

UPDATE 2011.06.09 To answer some of the questions:

I had an MRI around 5 years when this first occurred. The orthopedist mentioned it was normal but my flexibility was poor in my left leg. He recommended physical therapy, but my insurance did not cover it at the time, so I could not do it.

In the past month since I posted the question, I've started going to a chiropractor. He mentioned that my left leg was 1/2 inch longer than right. In addition, he recommended left quad stretches and right hamstring stretches, as well as some other general stretches.

The chiropractor also performed some adjustments on my pelvic alignment, which he says will help my legs to equal length. He is also doing some massage.

After 4 chiro appointments, I have noticed some reduction in the pain. I have not started running yet, but I will see how it goes.

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Have you seen an orthopedist and had an xray or an MRI? –  BackInShapeBuddy Jun 4 '11 at 22:16
    
@BackInShapeBuddy, yes, all of the above. See my update. –  frankadelic Jun 9 '11 at 17:53
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2 Answers 2

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This is a completely different problem than that of your shoulder.

If your left hip is clicking, your left knee and/or foot probably turn inward slightly which causes the left hip bone to drop a bit in the front.

Any time you have a tightness in the hips and glute area, it creates an imbalance in the position of your pelvic bone. An imbalance or instability in the hips will cause other muscles in your hips to work harder to stabilize the area. The difference between this situation and your shoulder problem, is that your shoulder has long periods of rest throughout the day, whereas your hips only rest while you're prone. Simple daily activities are causing the problem to persist even though you are unaware of it until you exercise.

You should see a chiropractor and have him/her x-ray your hips and show you the likely rotation that is is your pelvic area. They may suggest a treatment plan. Even if you choose not to go back for regular adjustments to address the problem, I still suggest that you go for an initial visit. This way you can understand what's going on.

To fix the issue, you will need to relax the muscles that are encouraging the rotation in your hips, and you may find that you have pain in a new place that is the root of the problem. To relax the muscles, you should get regular massage. I suggest once a week in the beginning. Make sure that you find a massage therapist that does deep tissue work, and doesn't avoid the front hip area and glutes. That is where you'll need the most work, and some LMT's tend to work arms, legs, and back which isn't going to serve the purpose you need.

It is also possible that there is no root of the problem, rather that you favor one leg strongly to the point that your habits have allowed muscles in a certain area to shorten and muscles in another area to lengthen.

Added via edit... As for exercises to strengthen the hip...Without knowing the exact root of the problem, I can't really give specific exercises that would benefit your particular issue. I would say that any exercises that work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs, and low back would benefit you if done with light weight in sets of 20 or more followed by lots of stretching. These exercises could include but are not limited to squats, dead lifts, lunges, stiff legged dead lifts, hypertensions, and crunches.

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While I agree with most of the answer, surely there must be some exercises he can perform to relax the muscles and improve his strength? –  Ivo Flipse Apr 26 '11 at 7:58
    
I edited my answer. –  Natalie Barnett Apr 27 '11 at 2:30
    
I have visited a chiropractor as suggested. See my update in the original question. –  frankadelic Jun 9 '11 at 17:27
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@frankadelic Thanks for the update. I’m glad that the chiropractic treatments are helping and that you have seen an orthopedist to rule out anything serious. As your pelvic alignment, range of motion and flexibility improve, you should have less stress on the hips.

When you are ready to return to running, if you begin by jogging in chest or waist deep water you will reduce the compressive forces on your hip. Then you can gradually add more weight as your hip tolerates the workout. If your hip does hurt when you resume running, your chiropractor will be able to tell you if you need any follow up with your orthopedist.

Here is some more info about the hip joint, (if you can wade thru this article). It explains about that “click” with the Thomas test as you describe and possible causes of pain.

One other thing to discuss with your chiropractor before you finish treatment is any muscle weaknesses you may have. You say you lean as you walk, so ask which muscles are testing weak. Pain was probably the reason you started limping, but pain can also cause muscle inhibition and gradual weakness. When your chiropractor says you are ready, do isolated muscle strengthening exercises for those hip muscles. Or see a physical therapist at least for one or two sessions to learn specific exercises. (Take your camera so you will remember the moves). There are hip rotators, ab and adductors in addition to the flexors and extensors that all need to be flexible as well as strong and coordinated, so like the shoulder they do need to be in balance.

Don’t overlook the rest of the leg. Tight heal cords, IT band, hamstrings or quads can also throw off your alignment, so ask about balancing out everything from the waist down. Good luck.

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