A guest post by Dr. Rick Boatright, D.C.
The human skeletal frame is similar to a mobile hanging over a baby’s crib. It’s nearly impossible to make a change in one part without it affecting the entire mobile.Similarly, it’s just about impossible to change any part of the skeletal frame without it generating consequences in other places.
Today, let’s look at the hip.
First, let’s define the “hip.” Some people point to the big bone that goes from the middle of the low back, around the side and into the front when they’re asked about the “hip.” That’s a large bone called the ileum.
Others place a finger on the little dimple just off center in the low back. That’s the old, infamous sacroiliac joint (“SI”) where the sacrum and the ileum connect.
Still other patients put a hand on the upper, outside of the low back and slide the hand down the outer back of the buttock. A nerve called the cluneal nerve lives here. It’s often misdiagnosed as the sciatic nerve. But the sciatic nerve lives much lower and toward the center of your body. (See “Cluneal Nerve Entrapment Versus Sciatica” on You Tube.)
Sometimes people describe the hip as a small point at the outermost part of the body about the size of a silver dollar. This is the part of the hip we use to close the refrigerator door when our hands are full.And a particular group of hip-pain sufferers point to a place deep in the groin. They describe sharp hip pain. These patients are the most likely to need hip replacement, but not always.These last two locations are the true “hip” at the hip socket itself.
For this discussion, let’s exclude the ileum, the sacroiliac joint and the cluneal nerve. We’ll only address the part of the hip where the long leg bone – the femur – attaches to the body at the hip socket.
When the femur is misaligned here at the hip, it affects the mechanics in the entire leg. If the femur rotates outward at the hip, it places excessive pressure on the inside of the knee with every step. Unrelenting knee pain can result. If the hip discrepancy isn’t corrected, over a period of years, the sufferer can develop osteoarthritis in both the hip and the knee from the excess wear. Also, the entire hip complex drops on that side. That creates a sideways curve in the low back causing low back pain – characteristically on the side opposite to the side of the hip problem. Misalignments in low back, the third lumbar vertebra in particular, can also contribute to knee pain and it further destabilizes the knee. Then the cycle continues to feed on itself.
With the hip rotated outward, not only does it stress the inner knee, it further stresses the ankle and foot due to the changed body mechanics. The person can develop dropped arches and be prone to ankle sprains. A foot-flair can therefore indicate a hip rotation, even before pain develops.
One challenge in this scenario is that it’s a “chicken-or-the-egg” situation. Which comes first? On the other hand, which came first is inconsequential. The reality is that each part of this complex condition must be addressed to affect a definitive correction.
An allopathic approach to reducing hip pain is therefore all-too-often inadequate in the long run … the obvious exceptions being cases with so much advanced degeneration they require replacement surgery. Focusing on hip pain alone fails to address the entire bio-mechanical picture. Reducing pain with medications only allows the condition to continue degenerating.
For the most complete correction possible, it’s vital to consult a true bio-mechanical expert … your doctor of chiropractic. Like all degenerative conditions, early detection provides the best possible outcome.
Dr. Rick Boatright has been a doctor of chiropractic since 1989. He’s authored several books, including “Surviving Type II Diabetes,” “A Marketing System for Doctors Who Do Chiropractic on Horses” and “Crossing the Veil.” Today he works with human patients 3 days per week and equine patients 3 days per week. He posts on his blog regularly at drricksblog.com