What to do about hip pain?

Period pain

This is for further tests to rule out an underlying medical condition.

Further tests

To help find out the cause of your period pain, a gynaecologist may need to carry out:

  • a urine or blood test
  • pelvic ultrasound )– where high-frequency sound waves are used to produce an image of the inside of your body; it’s painless and will show any abnormalities in your reproductive organs
  • laparoscopy – under general anaesthetic, a small cut is made in your abdomen through which a fibro-optic telescope is inserted; it can be used to look at your internal organs, as well as take samples of tissue (a biopsy)
  • hysteroscopy – allows the inside of the womb to be examined using a fibro-optic telescope; it’s passed through your vagina and into the womb to check for abnormalities

Treating an underlying medical condition

If your period pain is caused by an underlying medical condition, your treatment will depend on which condition you have.

For example, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may require antibiotics to treat the infection, while fibroids may need to be surgically removed.

7 Ways to Cope with Period Pain — Fast

If you’re sensitive to NSAIDs or just don’t like taking over-the-counter pills, you still have options for relief.

Heat pads

If you want to avoid medication completely, a heat treatment may be your best option.

Whether you use a hot water bottle, heating pad, or dip into a warm bath, the heat helps your muscles relax and eases pain. Laying down with something warm on your aching stomach or relaxing in the tub can also reduce your general stress.

Though there aren’t a lot of studies about why heated patches work, there’s no downside to doing something that feels nice and relaxing — especially during the worst of your period.

Exercise

“When I have cramps, I love going for a run,” said no one — probably ever. For most of us, exercise is last on the list of things to do when you have period pain — but, it can really help.

“Working out helps reduce the level of prostaglandins and regulate digestion,” says Elizabeth Trattner, licensed acupuncturist. Since prostaglandins cause much of the pain in the first place, anything that reduces prostaglandins will make you feel better. Plus, the workout releases endorphins in the body, which improves your mood.

Trattner says that doesn’t mean you head to a bootcamp class when you’re in extreme pain. Instead, she recommends adding exercise before your period to help alleviate cramps before they start. During your period (when you’re not in pain), try to take a walk or do some light activity, just to thwart those prostaglandins before they wreak havoc.

Magnesium

“In my clinical practice, I recommend women aim for 300 mg nightly of magnesium bysglicinate to help alleviate menstrual cramps,” says Brighten. She says that magnesium can be effective in lowering prostaglandins and reducing pain.

Unfortunately, you can’t just take magnesium and feel better in a few minutes. But a nightly dose often minimizes cramps over the course of your period.

Diet

My dream period diet is a complete cliché — nothing but pizza, chocolate, and ice cream for a full five days. Sadly, this is the worst way to eat if you want to alleviate period pain. Processed and fried foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which isn’t good.

“When our diet is high in omega-6s we create stronger prostaglandins,” says Brighten. “To counteract that, you should include anti-inflammatory omega-3 rich foods like salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds.” These help reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces those dreaded prostaglandins, which then reduces pain.

Trattner recommends keeping a healthy, fiber-rich diet for the last two weeks of your cycle. Sure, that means avoiding junk food when you’re craving it the most, but it can reduce the severity of cramping and pain once your period finally comes to town.

Home Remedies: Managing menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women have menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods.

For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, menstrual cramps can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.

Conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids can cause menstrual cramps. Treating the cause is key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren’t caused by another condition tend to lessen with age and often improve after giving birth.

Things you may want to try at home include:

  • Exercise.
    Studies have found that physical activity may ease the pain of menstrual cramps.
  • Heat.
    Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad, hot water bottle or heat patch on your lower abdomen may ease menstrual cramps. Applying heat may be just as effective as over-the-counter pain medication for relieving menstrual cramps.
  • Dietary supplements.
    A number of studies have indicated that vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-6 and magnesium supplements may effectively reduce menstrual cramps.
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
    These substances can make menstrual cramps worse.
  • Reducing stress.
    Psychological stress may increase your risk of menstrual cramps and their severity.

Alternative medicine

Most alternative therapies haven’t been well-studied for treating menstrual cramps and need further study before experts can clearly recommend one treatment or another. However, some alternative treatments may help with menstrual cramps, including:

  • Acupuncture.
    Acupuncture involves inserting extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. Some studies have found that acupuncture helps relieve menstrual cramps.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
    A TENS device connects to the skin using adhesive patches with electrodes in them. The electrodes deliver a varying level of electric current to stimulate nerves.TENS may work by raising the threshold for pain signals and stimulating the release of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. In studies, TENS was more effective than a placebo in relieving menstrual cramp pain.
  • Herbal medicine.
    Some herbal products, such as pycnogenol, fennel or combination products, may provide some relief from menstrual cramps.
  • Acupressure.
    Like acupuncture, acupressure also involves stimulating certain points on the body. In acupressure, this is done with gentle pressure on the skin instead of needles. Although research on acupressure and menstrual cramps is limited, it appears that acupressure may be more effective than a placebo in easing menstrual cramps.

This article is written by Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.

3 Ways to Relieve Hip Pain

Shakira’s song “Hips Don’t Lie” is true—especially when our hips are in pain. Without giving much thought to them, we use our hips every day—when we walk, stand, sit and workout. In fact, there are few times when we are not using our hips. Every time we rotate or move our trunk or feet in any way, our hips are involved.

For example, imagine standing and holding a baby or being at the gym ready to do a standing bicep curl. In these instances, the hips and legs play a crucial role in stabilizing the body, so we can hold the extra weight. As with any movement, the more our muscles are stabilized, the more efficient our body will become and the lower the risk of injury.

Hips play a greater role in exercises such as squats, lunges, running and while playing soccer, where the hips and legs need to coil and spring instantly when a player stops and sprints in the opposite direction. Many other sports—such as ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse and tennis, to name a few—need stable hips in order to skate, jump or stop and start quickly.

Are You Putting Too Much Stress on Your Hips?

If your hips are not working properly, other movements and muscles will suffer. Your hips are able to withstand a great amount of stress, but if they are used improperly, an uneven amount of stress can be transferred elsewhere in the body where it is not meant to go. An athlete will still be able to stop and start, jump or skate, but will do so less efficiently and with less power, strength and agility. Over time, the muscle that is compensating for the weakened hip muscles will begin to feel tight, decreasing agility and speed, as well as taking longer to recover.

To properly balance and keep your hip muscles strong, try these exercises:

Hip Rotations

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs and feet together, hands at your sides. Keep your feet in a neutral position.
  • Move your right leg across the floor until it is approximately 30 degrees from your left leg.
  • Rotate your right leg and hip outward as much as possible, keeping both legs straight.
  • Hold the position for six seconds and repeat six times on each leg, resting for a few seconds in between sets. Try to increase your rotation each time.
  • You can also do this exercise rotating your leg and hip inward to strengthen a different muscle.

Hip Flex

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs and feet together, hands at your sides. Keep your feet in a neutral position.
  • Flex and push your hips up, keeping your hips level.
  • At the same time, lift your leg straight up in the air about 18 inches. (You should feel the muscles from your hip to your upper thigh contracting.)
  • Hold the position for six seconds and repeat six times on each leg, resting for a few seconds in between sets.
  • You can also rotate your leg inward as you lift it up, increasing rotation with each repetition.

Living with hip pain on a daily basis can make life severely unpleasant, especially because it can impact your mobility significantly. Most people don’t realize how much they use their hips every day, until they start experiencing constant pain. Luckily, though, there are home remedies for hip pain that will help you manage it.

RICE Your Hip to Alleviate Pain

One of the most effective methods of treating hip pain at home is with the RICE method. RICE is a method which anybody can use that stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

First, you have to rest. That means you stop engaging in any activity that causes pain. It could mean you stop running, or it could mean you stop moving altogether. Ideally, you should rest between 24 and 48 hours.

You should also apply an ice pack to the area where you can feel the pain. The ice will help to reduce inflammation and can make you feel much better. If you are experiencing extremely intense pain, then you should ice the area up to five times a day, for 10 to 15 minutes each time.

You can use anything from your freezer as an ice pack. Peas are a great option because they are easier to mold around the affected area. Make sure to wrap a towel around your ice pack because direct contact with your skin could cause irritation.

You need to compress the area as well, by applying an elastic bandage, like an Ace wrap, around your pelvis and hip. Compression helps reduce swelling, but you must be careful not to wrap the area to tightly as it can cause even more swelling below your hip. If you experience tingling or numbness, that’s a sign that you wrapped the bandage too tightly and it needs to be loosened.

Finally, you need to elevate the problematic area as it helps to reduce swelling and relieve pain. It might be more difficult to elevate your hip, but with the help of some cushions or pillows, you’ll manage it.

A Little Stretching and Exercise Can Help

It might sound counterintuitive to try treating hip pain at home with exercise, but a little gentle movement can do you a world of good. Exercise helps strengthen the muscles around the hip, providing it with additional support, and it can also improve your hip joint’s range of motion. However, the type of exercise you do are very important so as not to aggravate your pain.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends exercises such as walking in a shallow pool, walking on a flat surface, gentle swimming, bike riding or yoga.

Also, after you engage in any form of exercise, make sure you stretch. After cooling down, stand sideways on to a wall. If your right side is towards the wall, put your right hand on the wall and bend your elbow slightly. Cross your left foot over your right foot, keeping your right leg straight and your left slightly bent. Now, move your right hip towards the wall slowly and hold. Avoid bouncing as it can cause more harm. Repeat on the other side.

Treating Hip Pain at Home with Anti-Inflammatories

If nothing seems to be working, you might have to resort to anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate your hip pain. Ideally, you shouldn’t take these drugs for extended periods of time as they can cause ulcers and other gastro-intestinal issues. However, on a bad day, they can certainly help.

One option is ibuprofen. It will reduce swelling and inflammation in the hip and alleviate the pain as well. Please note, though, that you should be using other methods to reduce the pain as well so that you reduce the need for these drugs.

If you need help with your hip pain, at Augusta Health we can help you with a wide range of issues. To learn more about how we can help you alleviate hip pain and age gracefully, please give our Joint Center a call at (540) 932-5047.

5. Use hot or cold packs. By increasing blood flow, hot compresses can ease pain and stiffness. Cold compresses reduce swelling. You may want to experiment with heat versus cold packs to see what works best for you.

6. Keep pain under control. Over-the-counter medications can help ease arthritis pain. One of the most common is acetaminophen (Tylenol and store brands) because it doesn’t upset the stomach. However, taking more than recommended increases the chance of side effects, including liver problems. Other over-the-counter medications can also help, including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve and store brands). Possible side effects include stomach irritation and bleeding. Read labels carefully to make sure you’re taking the medication correctly. Also, don’t take any pain reliever for more than 10 days without talking to your doctor.

7. Talk to your doctor about supplements and complementary medicine. Many supplements have been tested for the treatment of arthritis. Glucosamine and SAMe show the most promise. Glucosamine, often along with chondroitin, has helped improve pain in some studies, but not in others. Some medical research shows that SAMe, a chemical found in the body, may work as well as some over-the-counter medications, although more research is needed. If you do try supplements, you may need to take them for a month or more before you feel the full effects. People with arthritis also turn to treatments such as acupuncture and massage. Acupuncture has been shown to ease knee pain and improve function. Massage can increase blood flow and warmth to painful joints. Be sure to seek out a skilled practitioner who has experience working with people with arthritis.

8. Try splints, braces, and other aids. Devices that support painful joints, such as splints, braces, and canes can help ease your discomfort and prevent injury. Other items such as electric can openers and shower chairs can also help make your everyday life easier.

9. Seek support. Living with arthritis isn’t easy. Finding other people you can talk to and share ideas with can help. Check out arthritis support groups online or in your area.

10. Stay positive. Your mental outlook can have a big impact on how you feel and how well you function. Every day, try to do something you enjoy. Spend time with friends. Develop hobbies that you can do even with arthritis. Focus on your abilities rather than your disabilities.

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