What a pain in the hip!

Um…really? I must be Superman by now!

As a writer I used to spend long periods of time sat down. Years ago I could sit at my PC for hours, all night sometimes, writing away, enjoying the sights and sounds of Imaginationland. But now I can barely stand to be seated (LOL) for more than 2 hours because of the agony burning away in my hip. And sadly it’s getting worse, which for me is a real bitch.

I thought I’d share my story of pain with you, dear blog reader, not for sympathy or anything as selfish as that, but because no matter how much it hurts I’ll always be smiling, cracking a joke or two and pushing on with the day-to-day stuff. And although my personal battle with pain isn’t pleasant I know there are way more people in the world with serious problems.

Even though my hip hates me I try to turn a grimace into a grin and ignore it.

But now the pain has turned into agony.

I don’t have an Owie, Ouchy or a Hurtie.

This has now become a: “bloodyhellthat’sgoddamnedpainfulallofasudden!”

This started about 12 months ago. A slight twinge in my left inner thigh. I figured I’d strained a muscle so I took it easy for a while and the pain went away. But then I started to get constant pain in my left hip, sort of at the top of my leg, but deep inside. No inflammation or tell-tale visual sign that something was wrong, just a dull ache.

Stupidly, I adopted the attitude of: “Me man. Me no need doctor. Me go hunt. Rargh!” I didn’t bother to see a doctor for months. Not until my left leg stopped working. Well, not entirely, but I’d be walking and suddenly I’d feel my left leg go, like it wasn’t attached to my body. Just for a second. I’d catch hold of something to steady myself, wince, grimace, curse, and then it was gone.

Oh, hi pain, thanks for stopping by.

I saw the doctor in the end because the pain was getting worse. I had an x-ray. Nothing to indicate any injury. So I went to see a physiotherapist. She was nice. Smiled a lot. Showed genuine empathy. She twisted my legs all over the place. I didn’t mind…much. Not until the pain made me cry out. Not ashamed to say I yelped as she bent and pulled my leg. It bloody hurt and I told her so. She was actually pleased I did. It showed her there was clearly pain there.

Diagnosis…very vague.

She suggested, or rather hinted, that it could be arthritis, though given my age she didn’t think it was likely. Perhaps some muscle damage that could be  sorted through exercise. So she gave me a sheet with drawings on showing various exercises – move left leg over right leg, hold, move back – stand up, raise left leg up, bend knee, hold, move back….and so on.

I followed them. Every day. The idea was that the routine should loosen up the muscles in my leg.

I’m pretty sure they’ve done eff all to help my pain.

At work I’m an active chap. I’m a Human Resources Administrator and whilst I do sit at a PC I’m also up and about a lot, walking, climbing stairs, moving about all day.

I used to be pretty lazy, and overweight, but not now. I’ve lost 8 stone in about 2 years, and still have a couple more to go before I reach my optimal weight. Funny thing is I haven’t really tried. No Weight Watchers for me. I cut back on the junk and stopped eating large meals and pursued a more active lifestyle.

I guess being overweight for a long time hasn’t helped my joints much.

Hindsight sucks the big one wouldn’t you agree dear blog reader?

Pain threshold stuff.

I like to think I have a high pain threshold. I seldom take much notice of cuts or bruises. Though I don’t fancy giving child-birth a try…all that stretching, no thanks. Ladies, you are nothing short of Goddesses in my eyes.

My hip hurts all the time now. Right at the top, inside. And it’s got worse. Now my right hip/top of leg hurts. The pain stretches right across from left to right, to the point where I think my junk is going fall off! It comes and goes though. At best it’s a dull ache or a throb. At worst it’s an intense searing pain, like some evil little demon is inserting red-hot needled between my joints.

Yesterday I woke up with a runny nose, sore throat, headache etc. It’s very rare that I catch a virus. I reckon I have a solid immune system. However, this nasty little bug has weedled its way into my joints. My body aches all over and my hips…oh Jesus, that’s just not funny.

I lay down. Nice comfy sofa or bed. Pain still there.

I stand up. Yep, that’s much worse.

I walk around. Strangely this is okay for a while.

I hardly slept a wink last night as I constantly battled for a position that didn’t feel like I was on fire.

Enough is enough.

I’ve made an appointment to see the doctor. I tend not to take pain killers until it becomes unbearable, but recently I’ve taken more than usual. And even then they don’t do much, they take the edge off but it’s still there, grinning flames of pain in my hip.

On the box of pills, Ibrupofen mainly, it says not to take more than 8 tablets in 24 hours. That’s okay. I pop a couple in the morning to get me through the working day, and take a 2 more in the evening.

But that can’t be good for you can it?

Despite what the adverts say: “Targets pain fast!” or “Gets right to the root of the pain!” That’s bullshit. The drugs aren’t smart. They simply do something in your brain to tell it not to feel the pain. Okay, they may reduce swelling etc, but they don’t solve the issue. I worry about the long-term effects of taking that sort of medication will have on my body.

I’ve just taken a break after 38 minutes of writing this post.

Had to get up and walk around. Jesus I feel like a 97-year-old. Just getting out the chair was tough.

Bummer.

Internet-based diagnosis.

I’m sure you’ve been there at some point – searching through the internet for symptoms relating to whatever ails you. I guess you can get lucky and pin point exactly the cause of your illness. But it’s also very easy to find that what you thought was a mild case of [insert pain here] could in fact be Mad Fungal Brain Disease or Severe Death Syndrome. 

I’ve tested my symptoms though. Take a look.

Sitting too long – painful.

Walking too long – painful.

One after the other in short bursts – kinda fine.

If I walk around after sitting the pain eases. And if I’ve been walking around a lot, say a long day shopping, and I sit down for a bit, the pain demon shows up with his red-hot needles. What a bastard.

However, I have read through lots of websites about hip pain and I keep coming back to the word arthritis. That bothers me. I don’t want arthritis. If arthritis was an actual person I’d be punching his face in right now.

That dude can keep the fuck away from me!

But after hours of internet diagnosis that nasty arthritis demon keeps grinning at me.

Pain and writing.

This is a serious inconvenience for me. I love writing. But the pain demon doesn’t. Last years NaNoWriMo was a blast – I loved the word sprints on Twitter, the long hours watching the words whoosh across the screen, keeping in touch with fellow Wrimo’s. It was ace.

NaNo this year has been very mixed. I’ve been trying to finish the latest edit of The Range, and find time to write my NaNo project. And all the time the pain demon is sticking his needles in me. It derails my train through Imaginationland so often I shout at the screen.

“STUPID PAIN! JUST FUUUUUUUUUCK OFF!”

Take today for example. My day off. Bit of a cold. Feeling under the weather. After a groggy morning I felt a little better and thought I’d work through the last chapter of The Range. 30 minutes later I gave up. The pain demon made damn sure my concentration was shot to shit every time I sat down.

Any advice?

I was planning to rant on for a little while longer but I’ll cut it short for now. I need another break before my hip disintegrates or explodes or something.

I won’t know the reason why the pain demon is so interested in my hips until I see the doctor again, or after a scan or whatever it is that needs doing. Even then if I am diagnosed with arthritis there doesn’t seem to be a cure. Another bummer.

So, dear blog reader, I turn to you.

The pain demon needs to be tamed.

Or given a good kicking to wipe that smile off his face!

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this sort of pain?

Hints, tips, exercises, homoeopathic remedies, anything that may help.

If you have similar problems how do you keep the pain demon at bay?

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33 thoughts on “What a pain in the hip!

  1. I was going to tell you about my own pain in the legs (notice I said the legs, not the butt, lol) but then, one should never compare pain with another as each person’s is peculiar to them-self. The first thing that comes to mind, because you do so much sitting is the chair you sit in! Back, hip, neck problems are often related to your office or desk chair. Something for you to look at. the other thing, that for my legs, which have bothered me a lot and sometimes like you one will give out for a second, has been myofascial massage and I will let you Google it for information. It has provided huge relief for me and I have recommended it to many, especially those whose pain is chronic which, really, is what yours has become. I’ve also found that Reiki helps and I’m fortunate in having a friend who gives me a treatment, at no cost, every couple of weeks. Pain like you’re describing is horrible and my heart goes out to you Dave. Seeing the doc is wise because you exactly described what pain meds do!
    take care my friend and pursue help vigorously.

    • I feel a bit of an idiot now you’ve mentioned the chair! Mine is waaay past its ability to be nothing more than junk yard fodder. Funny thing I never take any notice of it. I walk up, spin it round, sit, spin back to face the screen and that’s it. That’s going to the top of the Christmas list next to “NEEEED new mattress!”

      I’ve always felt a bit weird about massage, never having had one. I did wonder about it, but wasn’t sure if it would help, though I guess it can’t hurt to give it a go. I’ll certainly look into that. What’s weird is that last night I barely got any sleep yet today my hip/legs haven’t felt too bad, not until I got home and sat down, then it came on strong again. It’s like moving around is okay so long as I keep moving, then once I settle the pain demon lets me know it’s still around.

      Doc app next Tuesday! Can’t wait!

      • no feeling like an idiot allowed! Once you’ve gone for a massage you’ll be sold! I do encourage you to go to someone who will work on your fascia – that’s the envelope that holds your muscles together. When it gets tight, the muscles can’t stretch our or relax properly.
        Maybe Santa can bring you an early gift and you can get rid of the demon chair. Glad you’re seeing the doc. that’s the first step methinks. Remember your well being is your responsibility and you are more than capable of figuring this out and exploring to find out what will work for you.
        Wishing you pain free days and nights.

  2. Sounds like bursitis to me. My mom had bursitis and the symptoms you describe sound similar to what she had. Most often people associate bursitis with shoulders since that’s the more common area for it, but hip bursitis is fairly common.

    The symptoms from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says: “signs of hip bursitis may include pain that occurs right at the point of the hip; radiates from the hip to the thigh, starts as severe and sharp, and becomes more aching and widespread; gets worse at night or when you lie on the bad hip, gets worse when standing after sitting for a long period; and gets worse after prolonged periods of climbing stairs, squatting or walking.
    Treatment. You can usually treat bursitis with rest, ice, and medicines to ease pain and reduce swelling. Other treatments include ultrasound, physical therapy, steroid injections and, in rare cases, surgery.”

    There is a type of bursitis that is an infection and that is usually treated with antibiotics, aspirin and possibly surgery depending on how severe the infection is.

    My mom did have arthritis as well, but the hip bursitis when it was at its worst she would have steroid injections to reduce the swelling and recovered fairly quickly. I wish you luck in finally getting it diagnosed and treated properly, whatever it is, since you are too young and should not be dealing with such severe pain even if it is arthritis. Keep us posted on results and I wish you a speedy recovery.

    • Never heard of bursitis. Just looked it up. I have to say that the phrase “fluid filled sac” made me shudder! Although it does sound so much like the right symptoms. Steroid injects sounds very painful. I think my Nan has had those and she dreaded them.

      I’ll add both those things to the list of questions to put to the doctor. This is ace stuff, thanks to you and Joss I’ve got something to think about and question, whereas before I felt like I was going round in circles, not sure what could be causing the pain. At least now I can ask questions that might give better answers or lead to a better result.

      I’ll definitely keep you informed about what happens. Sharing is caring, and thank you for sharing, means a lot to me.

  3. HI Dave, So sorry you’re going through this! You could be describing the problem I’ve been having with my hip! I’m also long hours sitting at the computer or at the drawing table, pain sitting, pain getting up then waddling away like an old penguin. Just got new shoes and have been walking more it seems to be helping.
    I never considered hip bursitis. I’m going to look into that.Thanks for posting. I hope it clears up soon and you (and me) are pain free again.

    • Hehe, waddling like an old penguin is a damn good description there Pam! I had a friend at work a few years ago who had something wrong with her shoulder. She went to see a muscle specialist who told her to go see a shoe specialist (not sure what the correct terminology is there!) Anyway she had a new pair of shoes, good quality ones just for her. And bizarrely her shoulder pain eased off considerably.

      I wear trainers when I’m not at work. And at work I wear normal black shoes, thin soles, not exactly supportive. Hmm. Another thing to look into! Marvellous. Thank you for your comment Pam!

  4. I’ve had severe pain in my hips since my son was born. It’s mostly the right hip and often is accompanied by the feeling of an “air pocket” like pressure in my tailbone. This is gonna sound weird, but sometimes crossing my legs and tightening my backside until the pain in my hips releases does help. Sometimes my hips actually make this frighteningly loud popping sound and the pain gets worse for a split second and then goes away. You can’t be much older than I am and neither of us is old enough to feel 97 lol I’m not familiar with physiotherapy, is that like a chiropractor?

    • Weird. I’ve done that crossing legs thing too! Sat on the sofa, one leg crossed over the other, nice big squeeze of the butt cheeks, kinda thrusting in slow motion, and the pain eases for a bit, well, it feels as if it’s stretching something out. Doesn’t stop the pain but it feels very nice! No popping sound though.

      How I understand is that Physiotherapy relates to muscles and sinewy stuff, whilst a Chiropractor is more to do with bones and joints. Pretty similar I guess, maybe with different approaches.

      • I love the link, but my husband sent me a bunch of hip stretching exercises a few weeks ago. Maybe you could try something like that. Work for an hour and then stretch the muscles for a few minutes and see if that helps.

        • Perhaps doing a warm up and warm down would indeed help, even for something like taking a simple walk or before doing something strenuous at work. I’ll give that a whirl!

  5. So sorry you are having pain. That really stinks. I am also trying to do NaNoWriMo and finding that sitting for long periods is painful. My issue: sciatica. I am an amputee and wearing my prosthesis pushes me onto my “left side” (i.e. “left cheek”) more than the right side. This puts pressure on the nerves. I stand / walk for a bit, then sit for as long as I can tolerate. Then stand/walk. Repeat. There are exercises which are supposed to help … note I said “supposed to help”. Only thing that really helps for me is visiting the chiropractor. If you haven’t seen one you might want to try it out. People think of “back cracking” when they think “chiropractor” but they do some tissue massage plus electrical stimulation which works somewhat for me. Good luck. I hope you can find out what works for you.

    • That’s what I was thinking “back cracking” when I replied to the comment above. It’s what springs to mind but I figure there must be more to it than just making your joints crack or creak. Like Joss said, I wonder if sitting in the wrong or bad sort of chair isn’t doing me (or anyone) any favours.

      I like your word “supposed” which is what I got from my physiotherapist when she gave me those exercises. I didn’t find much benefit from them and considering I’m active during the day anyway they didn’t do much I wasn’t doing at work, bending, stretching etc. I’ll put chiropractor on the list and see what the doc suggests.

      Thanks for your comments! Much appreciated!

        • Well I’ve been to the see the physiotherapist who I’m sure delighted in twisting and turning my legs just to see the look of agony on my face. He was a bit puzzled when I told him my x-ray’s taken a few months back showed no sign of badness. Alas, more exercises to do until I see him again next Wednesday. Although he did suggest it wasn’t muscular, but perhaps a joint issue. He said I’d likely be referred to a consultant and to expect more x-rays, scans etc. At least it’s a step in the right direction.

          • Wow. Well, good luck. I hope these exercises work a little better. Sometimes – as much as you want good news – having a doctor see NOTHING is incredibly frustrating. I am so sorry!

  6. Chi Gong exercises and, yes, homeopathic remedies. If it’s a rheumatic thing, you need Rhus Tox 30th potency, two tabs every two hours for the first six doses, then three doses a day until pain gone. If it’s to do with misaligned/injured muscles, ligaments, or bones, you want Rhuta Grav (same dosage as above). If there’s any bruising anywhere, you want Arnica. All three remedies also have a topical ointment to go with them.

    You can also buy a rubber ring to sit on and various back support items from a medical supplies shop.

    Vitamin D supplements, as you’re probably spending too much time indoors writing.

    No pain, no gain. Come on, you can do it–50,000 words born out of sweat and agony. Good luck.

    • Ooh now this is interesting! I don’t have any bruising or swelling that I’ve noticed. Some considerable tenderness on the outside of my right thigh at times. I’ll look those up for sure! Again, back support, like the chair, never even considered that. I think I’m like a lot of people who don’t take much notice of how they sit for long periods, not until the pain comes anyway!

      Well, 50,000 words hopefully won’t be a problem! Even if it does mean sweat and agony. I don’t quit easy (or ever) when it comes to writing!

      Your words of encouragement are most welcome Sarah! Thank you!

  7. Hi Dave!

    I found your blog through PiP.

    I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo too. My issue is pain in my fingers and my right wrist in particular. Typing definitely makes it worse.

    I hope that the doctor can diagnose you and find something that will make you feel better very quickly.

  8. Dave, I really enjoyed this blog. Based on your description of your symptoms, it sounds like almost a textbook case of SI Joint Dysfunction, which is the medical term for pain in the SI joint. The SI (sacroiliac) joints are where your “tailbone” joins with your hips. SI joint pain has many causes, all stemming from stress to the SI joint, which causes a misalignment of the joint. This can happen from trauma or overuse (running; new exercise routine; a fall), or it can develop over time. It is fairly common in people who are overweight and inactive.

    The misalignment can lead to inflammation of the SI joints, which in turn can affect the sciatic nerve that runs in front of the SI joint. SI joint dysfunction is often misdiagnosed as sciatica (a stabbing nerve pain in the buttocks and radiating down the leg). SI joint dysfunction is also commonly misdiagnosed as a degenerative or compressed spinal disc; or as hip bursitis (as people have noted in previous comments); or just generalized low back pain.

    SI joint pain can be especially bad when walking up stairs or uphill; getting in and out of the car; standing up from a seated position; and bending forward. Sustained sitting, standing, or lying can make the symptoms worse. As you know and have described very well, the pain of SI joint inflammation can be excruciating and debilitating.

    Because there are two SI joints (left and right), SI joint pain is often localized on the right or left side of your lower back, often radiating into your hip, buttock, groin, or down to the knee. If you do see a doctor, ask him specifically for a clinical exam to rule out SI Joint Dysfunction. If he doesn’t take you seriously, see another doctor. SI Joint Dysfunction is difficult or impossible to diagnose with x-rays or MRI.

    If you do see a doctor, he will likely just prescribe painkillers, but that is not a long term solution. A steroid injection could help the pain temporarily. Chiropractic and massage also might help, but these are temporary fixes, and they can become expensive and time consuming without ever solving the underlying problem.

    My story is similar to yours, and my heart goes out to you! When I finally learned what was wrong with me, I started fixing it right away. My pain resolved quickly and I’ve been pain-free for years. Now I’m on a mission to help others suffering from SI joint pain. My system is called SASSI (Strength And Stabilization for SI Joint). I hope you’ll check it out. Good luck!!
    -Melanie

    • Gosh! Thanks Melanie for such a fab comment! The doc did ask if I wanted pain killers the last time I saw him. I said no thanks. I don’t fancy spending any length of time numbing the pain instead of dealing with it.

      I’m seeing the physiotherapist on Wednesday next week so I’ll make sure to ask about SI Joint Dysfunction. I wonder if this could have been prevented. For years when watching TV in the evening I preferred to lie on the floor rather than in an armchair, on my left side, the same side where the pain is, propped up on my left elbow.

      Now if I try to do the same thing I last about 2 minutes before I realise it was stupid to even try stretching out on the floor! Finding a way to manage or reduce the pain is my aim but I’m also very keen to know how and why it happened in the first place.

      Strange to think that we put our bodies through so much when we’re younger, only to find out later on that it probably wasn’t doing us much good.

      I’m feeling a lot more positive after everyone’s comments, but especially to hear you’ve managed to work on your own pain which does sound identical to mine.

      Thanks again! I’m very grateful you took the time to reply.

      • It is partly an age thing. We tend to lose muscle tone as we age and we often can’t do the things that we did without a thought when we were younger!

        But we also tend to become more sedentary as we get older, which was a problem for me. Like you, I could sit for hours when I was younger, but over time that can mis-align the SI joint, and then the pain demon takes over.

        The good news is that you don’t have to undertake a major therapy program or become an exercise fanatic (not that there’s anything wrong with that lol). There are simple movements you can do to keep those joints strong & in alignment. The time & effort required is fairly minimal, and totally worth it for me!

  9. Just a quick update – After two recent visits to the physiotherapist I’m being booked in for an MRI scan. The physio told me it wasn’t muscular and since the x-rays taken early in 2012 failed to show anything I’m to have a scan.

    Jolly good. At least it’s a step in the right direction. Big thank you to everyone who took the time to post a comment, your kind words mean a lot to me.

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  11. Hi Dave, I just found your blog cos I was doing that thing – searching on the internet for the cause of my sudden hip pain. I’m a writer too so this is sucking that I can’t sit at the computer. The pain is much worse at night. Searing. But it doesn’t feel like a mobility thing. Goes right round to the back. So, what was your update? Have you had your MRI?

    • Apologies for not updating sooner. Okay, yes I had an MRI scan and was somewhat fearful of what the consultant might find. To my great relief he couldn’t see any issue relating to bones and their wear and tear, though he was slightly concerned about a tiny snippet of bone (I can’t remember where) that could be aggravating the surrounding tissue and ligaments.

      Despite having been to see the physio, the consultant suggested I go back for some real work, rather than just an assessment, as it would be easier to rule out things like muscle and ligament issues than performing surgery, which he told me in real terms would be a huge bitch, lots of pain and no guarantee of success.

      Adding to that he said if surgery were performed, more exploratory than anything, there was an element of risk where such an invasive procedure could result in a worse condition should there be any infection, and as a result could mean a hip replacement.

      Keen to avoid surgery as much as possible I went for physiotherapy with a lovely lady who, given her petite size, I questioned if she had the strength to manipulate my large frame. No worries there though, she was amazing, despite the agony she put me through!

      After much pushing, pulling, twisting, turning and grimacing, she arrived at the conclusion the pain was due to weak ligaments/muscles around the top of the thighs/stomach/hip area. When I was a bigger weight those ligaments were strong enough to support that weight. However after losing now 9 stone, and spending a lot of time sat in front a pc, not exercising, those ligaments/muscles had weakened considerably.

      The pain came from them not being stretched enough, so whenever I moved they were both inflexible and weak. I had lots of sessions with the physio and went through a daily routine at home. Not only that but around the same time I moved offices at work, swapping an upstairs office with my boss, which meant walking 2 flights of stairs.

      Although my job involves a lot of computer work, I’m up and down those stairs 20-30 times a day. I believe that has helped a lot in strengthening those ligaments/muscles and driving away the Pain Demons!

      The exercises were relatively easy to do, though painful I admit, but very much worth it in the long run. Simple things like laying on my side, knees pulled up slightly, then raising and lowering one knee up slightly, then back down, then move to the other. Using a chair for support, holding my ankle then raising it up to my bottom whilst aiming my knee toward the floor so my thigh was in line with my stomach – this really hurt and after a while I could feel the benefit as those tendons were being stretched.

      And that brings me to today. Pain free around 99% of the time, I get a twinge now and then but nothing worthy of complaint. Getting in and out of the car without wanting to chop my legs off feels amazing. Walking without hobbling – equally fascinating, to the point where I often think it feels like a mini miracle, as at one point I was convinced something bad was going to happen and I’d be screwed as far as mobility was concerned.

      I understand that pain at the night thing too. I had the same thing. It’s a little like doing a huge workout or hike, where muscles that don’t get used often have been pushed too hard, and the next day you feel sore and awkward. Same with ligaments, if they’re not worked regularly they sort of give up and contract into an unusable state.

      I’m grateful to have seen a good consultant who decided on a course of physiotherapy before surgery. It’s well worth having a check-up with your doc because I spent way too long worrying and suffering before I did anything about it.

      Best of luck to you, I hope you get it sorted out!

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