In our body, the hips are the insertion point of the upper part of the femur bone in the pelvis. Thus forming the joint that joins the lower extremities with the trunk. They support our weight, helping us to maintain our balance at every step. But especially as the years go by, this complex mechanism can experience certain deterioration that triggers different discomforts or diseases.
We know that applying heat to a painful area can provide relief. But not in all cases, so when pain occurs in this joint, the question arises: is heat good for hip pain? The answer, is in this article.
Is heat good for hip pain or not?
Heat in general can have an analgesic effect that provides relief from hip pain. But it must be made very clear that not in all cases. On specific occasions, it can even be counterproductive. The reason why there is no definitive answer to this question is that hip pain can have very different origins and, depending on the cause that causes it, heat can be a good ally or, on the contrary, aggravate any ailment.
A fall, blow, or trauma that affects the hip area, an impingement or tendinopathy (that affects the tendons that are inserted at points on the anterior side of the hip), diseases such as hip osteoarthritis or trochanters, a contracture in the pyramidal or gluteal muscles, inflammation of the joint itself (femur – pelvis), an inguinal hernia… are just some of the possible causes that can trigger hip pain.
To alleviate some of them, applying heat is good, but not for others. What’s more, for certain ailments it will be the cold that provides greater relief. As a first idea, you must be clear that if the hip pain is accompanied by inflammatory symptoms, heat is not recommended.
When to apply heat for hip pain
In the face of intense hip pain, or one that recurs on a recurring basis. It is essential to consult a specialist doctor because, as we have indicated. It is important to know what causes it. Since hip pain can be a symptom of very diverse pathologies. Based on this idea and unless there is a medical contraindication. You can find timely relief for that pain by applying heat to the hip area.
It must be remembered that to the general calming effect of heat, we must add its vasodilator properties, which contribute to improving circulation in the area where it is applied, something that favors the arrival of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that may present some pathology that is causing the hip pain.
The heat not only helps to improve blood flow, but it is also helpful when it comes to relaxing the muscles in the area, improving the elasticity of the hip as a whole.
You can apply it as long as there is no swelling or inflammation . For example, if the pain is from a blow, fracture, or hip surgery, you should wait 1-2 weeks before resorting to a heat remedy to get relief.
In the case of suffering hip osteoarthritis, as with other osteoarthritis. Heat can be a good ally and be beneficial when it comes to keeping minor discomfort or pain under control, providing the painful joint with the comfort it needs to work properly. In this sense, it can be said that heat is good for hip pain. But, as the Spanish Rheumatology Foundation points out, in the face of an intense inflammatory outbreak of that joint it must be avoided since what is useful is applying local cold.
Applying heat to the hip can be beneficial before light exercise (always advisable). As a preventative measure to ‘warm up’ the muscles and tendons connected to the hip and thus avoid further discomfort. Also, if you are prone to this pain, it is a good idea to start the day by applying local heat for a few minutes.
Finally, remember that heat should not be applied in the case of arthritis. Nor in pathologies that present some type of joint effusion (for example, synovial fluid).
Unless there is inflammation or you suffer from a disease that makes it inadvisable. Heat is good for hip pain and you can apply it with the method you prefer. From the traditional hot water bottle to bags of seeds, paraffin treatments, etc., etc
In general, moderate physical exercise, especially that which involves stretching, is good for keeping the hip joint in good condition. In this sense, physiotherapy treatments that combine therapeutic massages with specific exercises may also be advisable.
To alleviate the pain, as long as there is no medical contraindication, a drug with analgesic properties can be used. In the most serious cases, the rheumatologist will be the doctor in charge of pointing out alternative treatments, including possible surgeries to end the pain.