Let me explain. Being chronically ill with an autoimmune disease – which causes pain – and also being a physically active person (to combat said pain – I need those endorphins!), I am firmly in the camp of “It’s going to hurt anyway, so I might as well exercise.” Something my last batch of doctors said has given me pause. That comment was something along the lines of, “It’s time to start treating the symptoms, and see if we can rid of the pain.”
Two months and a new medication (an NSAID) later, I still have pain. This is no surprise. I’ve spent time on anti-inflammatories before, and the prescriptions I’ve taken haven’t ever done anything for the pain. There are pain relievers that are also NSAIDs, and for treating my pain, these kinds of over-the-counter medications seem to work better than just straight the NSAIDs.
The pain I’m thinking about today is my hip pain. December of 2009 was when I first noticed the lingering hip pain. At first, my one hip only bothered me at night, in bed, while laying on my back. While initially it hurt to lay on that side, after that split second or two of pain, it started to feel better, which led me to wonder if compression was helping. Another position that brought relief while laying on my back was to kick that leg out sideways from the hip, resting the foot on the inner thigh of my other leg, or somewhere in that general area (like tree pose, while laying down, without the arms over the head).
Well, I run. I don’t know if that actually makes me a runner or not. At my peak, between child one and child two, I was running 15 miles a day, between naps. During the morning nap, I ran the first 8 miles. The afternoon nap gave me time to run the last 7 miles. That all changed, of course, once child two arrived and there was no going to the bathroom by myself, let alone pounding out miles on the treadmill.
After child two, I got into yoga, and did several hours every day. This was something, I learned, I could do and still see, hear and interact with my children, even whilst attempting shoulder or head stands and other inversions. I seriously considered getting certified and opening a studio, but the work that required would include separation from my kiddos and a lot more time away from home than I had in mind.
These days, I’m home four mornings a week, and I run/cross train 5 miles those days. I do power walk portions, depending on how I’m feeling, and to give a periodic rest if I need a break from the pain. While the pain is nearly constant, striking does give a spike in the ow-factor. I’ve contemplated adding days or other exercises on the off days, but have not done so because of the hip pain.
I was diagnosed with several bulging discs in my lower back nearly 20 years ago. It took a significant amount of time, but eventually, the tingling and other pain from my posterior down the back of my legs finally went away. This was a condition that was exacerbated by sitting, so being on my feet and active meant I could continue to function and do pretty well. Through the years, I’ve continued to have spells off and on of the tingling and pain. I’ve had days when a backache kept me curled up in a ball in bed. I’ve had days where I felt pretty good. Until I got sick 3 years ago. It’s been pretty much downhill ever since.
I know that compressed discs in your back can cause all kinds of things, particularly hip pain. Because this pain doesn’t seem to be completely disease related, I wonder: Could it be a problem with my back causing the hip pain? I know people who have been disabled for several months by hip pain that was resolved with very good results through chiropractic manipulation.
After the initial onset of pain, I continued to run. Some days I had no pain. Other days I had a little bit of pain while running at higher speeds and while laying in bed. Some days, my other hip also had pain. While it was not the same kind of pain and was much less infrequent, it was, on occasion, much more intense. Go figure.
Over the course of the year, the pain increased to points where it was constant pain; throbbing nearly all the time and radiating down the outside of my thigh. This is where I’m at now. Sometimes it is constant, intense pain. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt as much, or while I’m sitting. Sometimes the pain doesn’t increase until I run at higher speeds. It always hurts when that side of my hip/leg is touched, even lightly.
Observations: Almost immediately after the onset of pain, there has been noticeable lump in that area. That area hurts <more> to brush against it in addition when being pressed. The pain radiates nearly down to my knee. I don’t have right side hip pain nearly to the same degree, and that pain seems to be focused on the front part of my hip, as opposed to the side. This stuff in my hip was palpable to the docs, who took turns feeling it and wondering what it might be.
Because of my crazy schedule this time of the year, I allowed myself to take nearly two months off. I wanted to see if resting would help, in combination with the new medication. My conclusion: not so much. I don’t know that the new medication has done *anything* to help anything, but it has for sure exacerbated other symptoms. While the hip pain hasn’t been as consistently intense, I don’t feel there has been enough improvement to say either resting or new medication has helped.
“Life as usual” starts back on Monday. That means, for me, one of the first things I do in the morning, after checking email, is get on the treadmill. I warm up with some yoga (in particular, hip openers and gentle stretching) and do about 20 minutes more after running to cool down. While I am looking forward to getting back to my exercise regime, I am not looking forward to the prospect of increased pain. Which may or may not happen.
At my one last appointment, it was suggested that I might perhaps have some bursitis in that hip. X-rays revealed no degradation of the joints, which was good. But the comment – that the doctors made about treating symptoms – has caused me to apply this thinking to causes of the pain. Is there more than one cause? Could the pain be *not* disease related?
That line of thinking logically led to running, and injuries caused by running. Could this pain be caused by running? There are a lot of hip injuries people have resulting from running. One of those is ITB Syndrome, or Snapping Hip Syndrome. Now I’m left scratching my head. The snapping hip usually causes the bursitis in the hip, as I understand it.
I have never heard my hip snap, nor have I ever had the sensation that it was snapping. And while I am plugged in and listening to music while I run, my kids, who are always in the same room with me while I’m running, have never mentioned such a thing to me, either. This diagnosis does not seem likely to me.
As I run around in circles with research, I’m left wondering. If I look at this pain and think in terms not of being disease related, I’m left with two possible options: back/spinal related or bursitis.
I’ve seen the suggestion that doing certain Pilates exercises can help these specific pain points. I’ve taken quite a bit of time to look into these exercises for runners, but am unable to find good direction (like those with pictures) on which specific home exercises to use, and when and how many - before running, after running, how many reps, etc. without spending a bunch of money. Money is important to me. I’ve spent several years blowing a bunch of it on doctors without getting results. I am loathe to throw more money at something without having an inkling of potential success or promise.
So what’s my plan? I’m going to add to my daily routine more yoga poses/Asanas aimed at strengthening and stretching my legs and hips. I’m going to try to add a second session of those poses before bed and see if it helps either the sleep or running situations any. If that fails to give me any relief or tangible benefit after a few months, I’ll probably end up seeing if the chiropractor can help. I wish I could find the cause and have a good, *free* and non-invasive treatment. I’m not ruling out a shot of cortisone, but that would involve finding a doctor who could diagnose such a thing, and I am not sure I want to get back on that hamster wheel.
And, I’m hoping that if you are reading this article, that perhaps you may have some insight and/or helpful information to share. Please feel free to comment and share with me!