How Chiropractors Treat Hip Pain


Your hips support your whole upper body providing stability, strength, and mobility. It stands out as one of the most common types of joint pain potentially occurring both early and later in life.  The hip joint specifically refers to where the rounded edge of the upper thigh bone (femur) connects with the socket of the pelvis, known as the acetabulum. This joint also contains connective tissue and is protected by several fluid-filled sacs called bursa. A long list of muscles connect to the hip providing it with support and producing a wide range of movement patterns.  This ball and socket joint can hurt for a wide variety of reasons.

We develop hip pain for a wide variety of reasons.  Overuse and improper biomechanics often lead to Bursitis or Tendinitis.  Later in life we often experience degeneration in the hips also known as Arthritis.

Common Causes

  • Osteoarthritis –Osteoarthritis is caused by natural wear and tear and usually presents after 50 years of age. Cardinal signs of arthritis are pain and stiffness in the morning as well as reduced range of motion.
  • Low Back Pain – It is inevitable that your low back can affect the hip. Both of these areas are closely connected and if you have any kind of lower back problems it can also lead to pain in your hips. Some low back issues are spinal stenosis, misaligned joints and  herniated discs.
  • Bursitis/Tendinitis – These condition occurs when there is inflammation or irritation to the bursa or surrounding tendons. Both Bursitis & Tendinitis can limit motion and cause pain due to inflamed soft tissues.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractors treat hip pain by mobilizing the surrounding muscles and joints to help reduce inflammation in the area as well as increase flexibility.  They also employ a number of physical therapy modalities, such as e-stim & ultrasound to help reduce inflammation.  Reduction of inflammation and restoration of normal movement are key when it comes to treating hip pain.

Outside of your treatments try a few exercises to help stretch your hip and get some pain relief. The pigeon yoga pose (pic above), is helpful to open your hips and keep them loose. Tight hips can limit mobility and often contribute to low back pain as well. You can also use tools at home such as a yoga strap or foam roller to help lengthen and mobilize the soft tissues. 

Nerve Pain


Neuritis,  neuralgia, Sciatica, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, & Carpal Tunnel all refer to nerve pain conditions.  The underlying control system for your body is the brain. The brain communicates to the rest of the body through the many nerves that make up your nervous system. Some nerves go straight to their destination, but others combine to form complicated nerve networks called a ‘plexus.’ The brachial plexus is made up of nerves that come out of the middle and lower neck that supply information to the shoulders, arm, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.  The Lumbar Plexus is a similar arrangement of nerves originating in the Lumbar Spine and innervating the low back, pelvis, legs.

Dr. Smith uses a wide variety of techniques to treat nerve pain, including: sports massage, myofascial release technique, chiropractic, an anti-inflammatory diet, and physical therapy modalities.

Causes of nerve pain in the arm and hand

1. Brachial Plexus Nerve Pain

The nerves that make up the brachial plexus sometimes become irritated as they leave the spinal column. This occurs when the spinal bones in the neck and upper back are misaligned or do not have the range of motion they typically should.  This potentially damages the very nerves they are supposed to protect. Any injury or trauma can cause the bones to become misaligned or  decrease the local range of motion. Serious accidents or more minor irritations such as sleeping incorrectly can cause the vertebrae to become misaligned.

Muscles and joints  throughout the chest and shoulders also contribute to tightness around the brachial plexus, causing similar symptoms. This can be caused be structural deformities such as previous shoulder injuries or anatomic variation such as cervical ribs.  It can also be caused by one’s lifestyle, such as sitting at a desk or looking at a phone for too long. The pressure placed on the nerves and blood vessels can create numbness, tingling and pain down the arm collectively known as “thoracic outlet syndrome”.

2. Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Irritation

Symptoms from damage to or pressure on the brachial plexus can differ depending on location of the trauma.

Common symptoms to the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand are:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle numbness
  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist

In addition to pain and symptoms in your arm or neck, it is not uncommon to experience headaches, facial pain, dizziness, or nasal problems as a result of brachial plexus nerve irritation.

3. Other Symptoms of Neck, Arm, Hand, and Shoulder Pain

Carpal Tunnel symptoms include tingling and numbness in the hand.  The pain is described as incredibly intense and has been reported to awaken sufferers at night. This pain is often caused by the swelling in the wrist. People often confuse nerves that are disrupted by the spine, muscles or joints as carpal tunnel syndrome.  However, the treatment in this case is completely different.  Misdiagnosed conditions can sometimes lead to unnecessary injections or surgery which could have otherwise been treated with conservative chiropractic care and soft tissue therapies such as Myofascial Release Technique.

4. Chiropractic for Shoulder, Arm, Neck, & Hand Pain.

The number of people suffering from pain and neurologic symptoms in their shoulders, arms and hands is on the rise.  Many of them seek help from a chiropractor or sports massage therapist. The chiropractic approach analyzes the body’s underlying structure to locate and reduce stress on the nervous system. Sports chiropractors with additional training can further help through the use of functional training, rehab exercises and soft tissue approaches such as myofascial release techniques and Therapeutic Massage. Such an approach often eliminates the pain and correct the underlying structural problem that refers pain to the arm, wrist, and hand.

Interested in learning about Sciatica and Nerve Pain in the Legs?

Abnormal Spinal Curves


The main purpose of the spine is to support the body’s weight.  However, it also provides stability to the torso, allows for flexibility & movement, and protects the spinal cord. Abnormal spinal curves may hinder or result in the inability of the spine to carry out any these functions.  

The  spinal column is composed of 24 vertebrae. There are 7 cervical vertebrae starting at the base of the skull and spanning the neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae located in the upper trunk of the body, and 5 lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. 

A “normal” spine consists of both concave and convex curvatures front to back.  However, when the curves become too extreme or the spine begins to curve laterally, painful spinal conditions may evolve.  Common abnormal curvatures of the spine include kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis.

We all have a natural curvature to our spines. However, excess or abnormal spinal curves can cause pain and a host of other issues.

Understanding Abnormal Spinal Curves

1. Kyphosis

Kyphosis is identified by an abnormal outward curvature of the thoracic spine. This type of spinal abnormality is most prevalent among the elderly population. People with this specific spinal abnormality may experience difficulty with balance because it tends to lead to an abnormal flexion of the spine. This can also increase compression and shear forces applied to the thoracic vertebrae, resulting in constant discomfort and inhibition of comfortable range of motion. Causes  of Kyphosis  can be years of poor posture such as anterior head carriage, or underlying inflammatory conditions such as  AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis), Scheuermann disease or DISH (Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis).

2. Lordosis

Lordosis, sometimes called swayback, refers to and abnormally deep curvature of the lumbar spine. When this occurs, the person typically experiences low back pain and muscle spasms. While it is common in dancers and in individuals who do not lift weight properly, it is also prominent among those who have a muscular imbalance between the muscles of the abdomen and lower back. A combination of weak hamstrings and tight hip flexors has also been known to cause lordosis.

3. Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves laterally in the frontal plane.  It typically occurs during puberty and is most common in females.  The physical signs of scoliosis are uneven muscles on either side of the spine, uneven hips, arm, or legs, or an abnormal rib cage rotation. Secondary scoliosis can arise from neuromuscular conditions and uneven forces applied to the hips and back. To diagnose scoliosis, a doctor identifies curvatures of the spine greater than 10 degrees. The most reliable way to identify a scoliosis is by means of x-ray.

4. Treatment

If the kyphosis or lordosis hasn’t progressed too far, chiropractic and physical therapy are both recommend to treat weakness and misalignments of the spine. However, if the spine is 50 degrees or greater outside the normal range of curvature, surgery may be required.  A thorough exam, including range of motion, postural check and orthopedic tests can be administered to identify the condition of the spine. Chiropractic therapy can slow down, stop, or even reverse the signs of abnormal spinal curvature.  Part of the treatment process includes custom exercises and stretches that will help strengthen weaker muscles to alleviate the unevenness.

Prevent Muscle Knots


We all spend too much time at our computers and looking down at our phones.  At this point it is almost inevitable.  Growing horns on the back of your skull yet?

Sitting in the same position for hours often results in becoming dehydrated and stiff.   That is usually when we start feeling tension in our necks, pain in our shoulders, and tightness in our low backs. Have you ever wondered why?

From extended use, our muscles get overworked, tight, and are unable to relax.  As a result, the muscle fibers become bunched and deficient in oxygen and nutrients.  Our muscles form knots.  This is sometimes described as building up lactic acid in the muscle fibers.  If you have ever experienced the joy of a muscle knot, you know that they can be extremely painful and stubborn.  Occasionally, muscle knots go away on their own, but they often need help. 

Proper steps should be taken to loosen the tense muscles fibers and relieve the pain. Let’s consider a few steps that you might take to prevent muscle knots from developing in the first place. 

Dr. Smith uses a wide variety of massage techniques and other services to address painful knots that develop in the muscles.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure right? 

Below we get into some of the things that you can do to keep these knots from coming back.

How do you prevent muscle knots

1. Eating right for muscle knots

Being dehydrated is likely a major cause of the muscle knots that you are experiencing. Are you drinking enough water?  Probably none of us are.  You should be drinking 7-9 glasses of water each day.  How many of us actually do that?  One way to help fulfill your body’s water requirements is by carrying a water bottle with you, or by setting a reminder on your phone that will notify you to refill that glass of water every hour.  

Certain things in our diets can also contribute to dehydration, such as coffee and alcohol.  If you are frequently experiencing knots, you might try to either cut back on your coffee/alcohol consumption or to include an additional glass of water every time you partake.

Further, it is highly recommended that you include calcium, magnesium, and potassium in your diet. These minerals are essential for muscle health and relaxation.  Deficiency of any of these can cause painful muscle cramps, knots, and stiffness. Intake of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables can help with these deficiencies and is just a good idea in general.  You might also try mineral supplementation or working more raw sea salt into your diet.

2. Keep moving to prevent muscle knots

Try to avoid sitting in the same position for too long.  Whether it is while you are reading, playing games on your phone, or writing that next great blog post take occasional breaks to get up and move.  It is important to get up and walk around every hour or so while at work. Even while seated at your desk, make small movements like turning your neck from side to side, straightening out your back, or uncrossing your legs. This simple movement strategy can go a long way in preventing muscle knots.

3. Exercise regularly for muscle knots

Our bodies are built to move. Many of the structures in our bodies are nourished through movement.  Movement also helps to reduce inflammation and push fluids back into circulation.  Stretching and exercising regularly helps release tension from the muscles and maintain that ever important flexibility. It is highly recommended to get at least 30 minutes of light exercises and/or stretching every day.  It not only helps the muscles, but it also has a positive impact on the heart and mind.

4. Improve your posture to address muscle knots

Just like sitting in one position for too long is not good, slouching at a desk or in front of the television is bad for your muscles too. Keep your posture upright.  Make your mom proud and sit up straight. 

Sit in a way that the muscles are not strained and blood flow is not blocked. Try to keep your head neutral and your back straight. Slouching or hunching your back puts stress on the postural muscles of the back and leads to pain. Keeping a good neutral posture will go a long way in preventing muscle knots and cramps.  If you feel like your workstation makes it hard to have good posture, consider getting an ergonomic evaluation.  Often the smallest shift in the arrangement of your gear can reduce stress on your body tremendously.

If you already have knots and pain, call your favorite local chiropractor, or massage therapist.  You’ll be glad that you did.