This column started many years ago when I published a local weekly newspaper and has been dwindling in frequency since my “retirement” from the news business five years ago. As I look back over recent years, I see that many of the articles deal with some of the health challenges I have faced. This is another of those.
Since I am now 62, some of this is not unexpected, due to the poor care I took of my body over the years. In 2009, I had a stent placed in my heart and in late 2011 I had a ruptured achilles tendon repaired, which led to many complications (both physical and mental) when the surgical wound did not heal properly.
I write about these things because I have found that the Internet has been of great value to me when dealing with my own health issues. If my experience can be of help to anyone facing similar issues then in a small way I am paying back.
Doctors are great when you get to the point of needing surgery, but I have not found them so good at diagnosing and treating a problem before it gets acute. My hip is a case in point. I started to have pain on the right side of my right hip well over two years ago. I mainly felt the pain at night when I slept on that side, which I am wont to do.
After googling around my first thought was that I had bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa. After a couple of steroid shots failed to improve the situation I had a hip X-ray to check for arthritis. When the doctor saw the films he asked me if my left hip hurt as well. When I told him “no” he said, “that’s funny because the arthritis is worse on the left side.”
He then prescribed a course of Naproxen, a stronger version of the OTC drug Aleve to “calm the inflammation down.” The drug did relieve my pain, however, after about 6 months I started experiencing sharp pains in my stomach, even though I was following directions to only take it with food.
At first I didn’t know what was wrong with me and even feared it might be a recurrence of heart problems. I even took for the first time some of the nitroglycerine they had given me when I had my stent placed. When the nitro had no noticeable affect, I concluded it must be something else.
Stopping the pills cleared up the stomach problem within a week, but then the hip pain returned with a vengeance! This past Fall it began to be a real problem. I began to spend more time on the couch avoiding normal activities because of the pain. It got so bad that I spent one entire weekend on the couch doing nothing, nothing but googling that is.
A statement I found online that most people who have hip pain have underdeveloped butts got me to thinking. I am one of those who suffers from the heartbreak of smallbuttitis. I am a person that really should wear suspenders at all times, since there is really nothing there to hang a belt on.
I think the problem is at least partly genetic since some of my daughters have complained about me passing down this defective gene. When looking in the mirror I also noticed that I had let my posture get out of whack and was leaning forward when I walked instead of standing upright. In other words I was walking just like the Old Farmer that I am.
The real culprit, however, turned out to be another pain that I have been suffering from even longer than the hip– a pain on the inside of my right thigh in the adductor magnus muscle. The pain was pretty much chronic although it varied in severity from mild to strong.
I had mentioned this pain to an assortment of doctors, therapists and chiropractors but no one ever made the connection between that and the hip pain, or suggested how to fix it. Finally I ran across a video showing me a simple procedure to loosen up that major muscle. Essentially it involves doing a very deep massage on the muscle by balancing all your weight on that muscle by rolling on a medicine ball.
When I first tried this, the pain was so great that I could barely stand it. It also surprised me that the most painful part of the muscle was down near the knee, well below where I was feeling most of the pain.
After a few weeks of working that muscle, the pain in both the adductor and in my hip began to ease. I then began a regular weight training program, concentrating on increasing the strength of my lower body, particularly my long neglected glutes.
After six weeks of almost daily weight work, while paying attention to improved walking posture, and accomplishing some weight loss, my hip (and adductor) pain has been greatly reduced. I am not totally pain free yet, but I have come far enough that I know I am finally on the right track.
Disclaimer: Everybody’s situation is different and your hip pain may be caused by totally different mechanics. In most cases, however, it wouldn’t hurt to take a close look at your posture, other seemingly unrelated muscle pains and consider overall strength training, especially if you are getting up in years. After a certain age, the body starts to lose muscle tissue unless you make a major effort to maintain it! Being unable to walk and perform routine daily tasks without pain is a major problem and doesn’t do much for your mental health either. Good luck!