Hip Pain – How Does A Foundational Shift Cause Hip Pain?

Hip Pain

The Hip Bone’s Connected To The… Neck Bone!

Patients looking for a chiropractor in Colorado Springs often reach out to our office for help with their hip pain. While hip pain comes in many forms, a common theme around this specific pain seems to correlate with a patient’s neck alignment.

However, not all hip pain is created equal and of course there are forms of hip pain that may not have to do with the spine’s alignment, but rather degenerative changes in the ball-and-socket joint of the hip itself. Various conditions of the hip include: osteoarthritis, bursitis, IT band syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and labral tears, sprains and strains.

How Does The Hip Work?

As mentioned, the anatomical hip is designed like a ball-and-socket where the “ball” or femoral head is held inside the “socket” or hole in the pelvic bones known as the acetabulum. This forms a type of synovial joint that is meant to move around various planes of motion so you as a human being can do things like walk, crawl, sit up, and jump. Another aspect of a patient’s hip pain may have to do with the “SI” joints or sacroiliac joints. This is the back side of the hip where the iliac crests of the pelvic bones attach to the sacrum bone at the bottom of the spine. These joints act like a shock absorber for the spine and transmit the force coming from the lower limbs into the pelvis.

Is Hip Pain Normal As We Age?

Often, we are led to believe that hip pain is the normal process that occurs due to aging. Degeneration of the hip is typically categorized by loss of joint and cartilage tissue in the hip, which can cause the bones of the femur and pelvis to rub and create inflammation and a loss of range of motion. The medical community has, in a way, trained society to believe that as we get older we are destined to receive the osteoarthritis diagnosis and will in many cases need a hip replacement.

While more than 76 million people will experience chronic hip pain at some point, and hip replacement surgeries seem to be very common in the elderly community, this condition is most definitely not normal and can be avoided.

How Can I Avoid Hip Pain?

One of the most common and cost-effective methods to avoid hip problems throughout one’s life is to maintain healthy movement of the hips and hip joints through routine exercise. Many people actually do not exercise or stop doing any form of fitness altogether BECAUSE they feel pain in their hips, not realizing that by maintaining a routine consisting of either walking, hiking, squatting, deadlifting, lunging or a variation of any of these exercises would greatly reduce the risk of hip pain and degeneration throughout one’s life. As a baby we develop healthy hip joints by simple movements like crawling, squatting, and standing, but as we age and stop practicing these simple “primal movements”, we begin to see degeneration occur. It’s almost as if we should go back to moving and playing like babies again!

Other Ways To Help With Hip Pain

Outside of exercise, another major factor that contributes to hip pain and dysfunction is the alignment of the axial spine. When we say axial spine we mean specifically the skull, spine, and pelvis. Did you know that for every 1 inch the head sits away from the center of gravity of the spine it adds 10 pounds of pressure on the structures below it? “Why would the head shift on top of the spine?” – You may ask. Because shift happens…

As we go through life most human beings will experience an accident at one time or another. A fall as a child, a car accident, a concussion in sports, or a skiing accident in the mountains. While the soreness and symptoms of these accidents may cure in time, a foundational shift often begins that in many instances is left undetected for many years. This is due to the nature of our anatomy. The top bone in the spine is called the atlas or C1. The atlas weighs around 2 ounces and supports the weight of the skull and brain weighing in around 8-14lbs. While the cranio-cervical junction (or upper neck) is designed to have a great range of mobility, it is not designed to have very much STABILITY. This allows us to keep the head on a swivel when someone swerves in front of you in traffic, or when an athlete is running and turning to look at a ball they are about to catch. Imagine a bowling ball being held on top of the rim of a wine glass. Due to our genetic structure, even accidents that seem meaningless can cause significant shifts in the alignment of the skull and upper cervical spinal bones.

How Does A Foundational Shift Cause Hip Pain?

This displacement at the top of our axial spine causes the rest of the spine to shift out of alignment. When the skull and neck is shifted beyond the normal range in upright posture, the shoulders twist, and the hips become unleveled. This happens through what is known as the “righting reflex”. In an effort to bring the head and eyes back to a level place in gravity, one side of the spinal muscles will contract all the way down the spinal column to the pelvis. This compensation is the body’s way of trying to fix itself, but since the body can’t correct the shift in the upper neck on its own, it creates more displacement at the shoulder girdle and pelvic region, forcing the body to carry more weight on one side versus the other.

Like a car’s frame, if the frame was bent or shifted in a way that forced just two of the tires to carry most of the weight of the car and not the other two, eventually that would lead to wear and tear. The car would start pulling to one side and some of the tires would need to be rotated or replaced faster than expected. The effect of the spine’s alignment on the hip joints is no different.

NUCCA Chiropractic Helps With Hip Pain

As a NUCCA chiropractic clinic focused on Foundation Correction, our main objective is to correct the foundational shift in the spine that occurs through previous trauma or chronic poor posture. When the spine’s foundation is corrected, the upright position of the body is balanced. The alignment of the head and neck is restored to a position closer to the center of gravity which allows the shoulders and hip girdle to balance and the weight distribution of the body to become more symmetrical. This reduces the abnormal amount of stress or load that may be weighing on the hip joint causing pain and dysfunction.

Now we can all find a deeper (and nerdier) meaning to that old children’s jingle “the skeleton dance.”

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