Experiencing hip pain when sitting can be caused by different things, including incorrect posture and medical conditions. An imbalance in the body often causes general hip pain in prosthetic users. After amputation, other joints and muscles have to carry extra weight and may be subjected to more stress. This imbalance is often exacerbated when sitting with an incorrect posture.
For many prosthetic users, addressing hip pain when sitting can mean working with a physical therapist who can design an exercise program that can be done at home. Regular exercise is known to strengthen and retrain muscles, especially after limb loss.
Walking is one of the best exercises to help relieve hip pain. But a good program for prosthetic users can also include balance exercises and back extension training—all are essential to help decrease the stress on the hips and the low back.
If you’re a prosthetic user experiencing hip pain, we highly recommend seeing your physical therapist at least once a year for gait evaluation. Regular gait evaluation ensures that your prosthetic limb and body are in good shape. It also helps prevent hip or lower back pain, increasing or exacerbating symptoms of phantom limb pain.
However, if you’re sure that your gait or prosthetic limb isn’t the cause of your hip pain when sitting, please continue reading. Your discomfort may be caused by one or a combination of any of the conditions we outlined below.
What does pain in the hips mean?
Pain in the hip can range from mild or dull discomfort to severe or sharp pain. It’s also common for the hip joint to pop or feel stiff while sitting.
However, diagnosing pain in the hip area isn’t as straightforward as it can seem. Pain in the hips may come from the hip joint or any surrounding nerves, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, and ligaments.
Possible causes of hip pain when sitting
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back to the area just below the knees. A person experiencing sciatica will often describe the pain as originating in the buttock area or lower back and traveling into one or both legs. The pain itself can be described as burning, shooting, or stabbing pain. Numbness and weakness can also occur.
For people with lower-limb amputation, sciatica may indicate an increase in size or hypertrophy of the sciatic nerve. But sitting for long periods can also lead to sciatica.
Treatments for sciatica include chiropractic treatments like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, spinal alignment, and hot or cold therapy. Specific exercises and stretches, as well as pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs, can also be prescribed.
Ischial bursitis or simply ‘bursitis’ is severe inflammation in the ischial tuberosity or sitting bone. Many above-knee prosthetic users complain about pain in this area because the ischial tuberosity typically absorbs body weight when they sit or wear their prosthesis.
Bursitis develops due to the inflammation of the bursae—tiny sacs that lubricate the areas between the muscles and the bones to reduce friction. When the bursae undergo too much friction, they fill up with fluid in an attempt to protect the tendon.
Your physician may recommend exercise, rest, hot or cold treatments, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, splints, braces, or physical therapy to treat bursitis.
When inflamed, tendons can be painful, irritated, or swollen. You may feel pain in the area in front of the hip or the groin if you have tendinitis. You may also notice clicking or snapping sensations.
Your physician may recommend rest, cold therapy, compression, physical or occupational therapy, splints or braces, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, or surgery to treat tendinitis.
Osteoarthritis, one of the most common types of arthritis, is a chronic condition caused by the breaking down of cartilage, which allows the bones to rub together.
Those who suffer from osteoarthritis report stiffness, loss or limited movement, and pain. Those who experience osteoarthritis in the hip area may also feel pain inside the thigh or knee, buttocks, or groin.
Your physician may recommend surgery, exercise, or weight loss to treat or relieve osteoarthritis pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease, occurs when the immune system is compromised. In the hip, rheumatoid arthritis manifests as stiffness and swelling in the groin, thigh, or hip. Sufferers also report feeling pain in those areas.
Your physician may recommend topical pain relief products like patches, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, rest and exercise, or hot and cold treatments to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Posture, sitting position
Sometimes, hip pain is caused by something as simple as an incorrect posture or sitting position. Regularly hunching over a desk or while walking can lead to hip pain. This is because sitting without proper support for the hips or the back increases pressure on the hips. When this area is repeatedly strained, it can cause pain over time.
Be conscious of your body when you sit. As much as possible, avoid sitting cross-legged or leaning over to one side. One side of your hips has to deal with the pressure of more weight, which results in hip pain.
Also, be mindful when sitting on an uneven and unstable surface, like a cushion that’s too soft. Doing so causes your body to tilt to one side, putting more pressure on one side of the hips. This added pressure leads to poor posture as well as pain in the hip area when sitting.
If you feel pain in the hips when sitting, please consult your physician as soon as possible. They can perform tests or scans to pinpoint the cause of the pain accurately. However, if there’s a good reason you can’t see your doctor right away, you can alleviate the pain by using a seat with ample back support, stretching regularly throughout the day, or getting a massage.But if your hip pain gets worse or does not go away, do not delay consulting your doctor or prosthetist. The pain may be caused by a pinched nerve or an autoimmune disease.