I was officially diagnosed with Hip Osteoarthritis about 5 months ago. I say ‘officially’ because I had been self-diagnosing and living with the pain for over 10 years. So I’m no stranger to the peculiar symptoms of arthritis. Some days my hip has a low ache and some day’s I seem fine and when walking it sometimes ‘catches’ and I feel like I’m losing my ability to stand up – and I can be perfectly pain-free that day. Or I’m not feeling any pain but when I walk it begins to hurt, so I shift my foot a little to the right or left and then it’s ok.
So my hip has become unreliable and I simply didn’t trust it. My friends were noticing that I was showing that hip favoritism and I was truly perplexed on how they knew I was in pain as I was trying very hard to walk normally. And I hear the same stories from others with Arthritis that say ‘yeah me too’, so I’m thinking this is what we live with when we have the big ‘A’.
Please note, these are my experiences and you must always check with your doctor before attempting exercises for treatment. Arthritis can be painful enough, you certainly don’t want to add to that misery. My biggest regret was not getting properly diagnosed early on. Your doctor can recommend the best course of action for you.
My Self-Diagnosis and Terrible Self-Remedy (my mistakes)
I admit I am quite stubborn and instead of getting the cause of my pain diagnosed by a doctor, I did the foolish thing and self-diagnosed. I basically did all the wrong things.
First, since I started exercising about 2 years ago, the pain has been greatly reduced. Since I was no longer waking up in pain, that was a big accomplishment. So, I knew that exercise was a big help, but I still didn’t know what the problem was. Then I started reading about people who sat at their desk for hours without getting up and they suffered from tight hip flexors. I convinced myself that was my problem. So I researched Tight Hip Flexors, found some exercises and started doing them diligently.
I shared what I learned in my article about Hip Flexors – Exercises for Tight Hip Flexors
Not seeing any improvement when focused on those flexors, I moved to my second theory. I reexamined my pain and come up with a new diagnosis.
I had heard that as we age we need to strengthen our bones. People that I spoke with said that jumping builds strength in bones so I started doing research on how to do this. I bought a jump rope and started doing jumping jacks and jumping rope. That didn’t help but I couldn’t figure out if it was because I couldn’t jump for very long, so I worked harder at it. I figured that strengthening bones takes awhile. Now, keep in mind that with the other exercises I was doing, the pain wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t getting better either. Ok, maybe it did get a ‘little’ worse, but in my defense, as I mentioned above, the symptoms of the big ‘A’ are unpredictable.
I shared what I learned in my article about Jump Rope – Jump for your Heart.
Now don’t get me wrong, Jumping Rope and Exercising Hip Flexors are great exercises – jumping jacks too, but just not if you have Arthritis. And that’s one of the many reasons why, if you are in pain, you should see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
My ‘Real’ Diagnosis and Some Help
Finally, at my husband’s insistence, I saw my doctor. The doctor ordered an MRI and we reviewed the results together. Yes, I had Osteoarthritis of the Hip. I felt both disappointed and relieved. I was disappointed that I had Arthritis but at the same time I was relieved that I finally knew what was causing my pain.
So when my Doctor and I were discussing what to do I asked him about the jump rope (I was sure he would say – ‘YES! Strengthen those bones!”. But he didn’t say that, his eyes opened wide and he shook his head, just a little and said “that would be unwise”.
Ok, now I had hope, because as bad as the diagnosis was, being able to research and study more about what exercises can help has been a blessing. I also learned about what not to do – and jumping is the first on my list. I also found some things that seem to alleviate the pain and symptoms for me that I want to share.
Armed with a my Doctor’s exercise for Hip Arthritis, I started doing more research. The best advice was actually that one exercise he gave me to work my leg (print it here -> Hip Abduction) and to not use force on that hip.
I go to the gym early on the weekend (before it gets crowded) and tried the Elliptical, but after 30 minutes, I found that didn’t help. Then I thought about that Hip Abduction exercise and when I saw the 2 Lateral Elliptical machines, I figured it was similar movement, so I gave it a try.
So, I set the machine (for me it has to be the Lateral Elliptical) for my age, weight and interval on the lowest setting, then go at it for 30 minutes – below is the picture of how you move your legs. You basically slide from side to side. I do the interval set 2 minutes on level 2, then 2 minutes on level 1 – when level 2 comes on, I try to go as fast as I can so I’m getting a good workout.
I cannot tell you how much I recommend this machine. I do these exercises early Sunday morning (you can see from the picture how empty the gym is then) and did them for about 4 weeks when for various reasons I skipped a few weeks. My hip started to hurt again and my first Sunday back for that 30 minutes was great for me. I was so happy not to be in pain again.
A few things I do that seem to help me (*be sure to discuss any of these you want to try with your doctor first*):
1. Lateral Elliptical once a week for 30 minutes (2 minute cool down on machine) – I would love to get one for home!
2. Exercise 3-5 times weekly for 30 minutes (plus 5 minute warm-up and cool down)
3. I take glucosimine chondroitin (I like the one you take once a day)
4. While Sleeping:
When I get up from or go to bed I lie flat for a minute or so to adjust my hip bone.
I keep my legs straight while sleeping, I try not to bending my knees.
5. I don’t do anything that will impact my hip – no running or jumping – if for some reason I lose my balance and feel a twinge in my hip, if I feel that it’s become inflamed, I take an Aleve for the pain.
(Note: Please see the comments below from Doctor Jonathan: “As far as anti-inflammatories go, two good alternatives to NSAIDS are turmeric and boswellia. Great science behind both without the secondary side effects experienced by many people using NSAIDS on a regular basis.”)
While I am still living with Arthritis, I know what I need to do and that’s to stay active. If you have Arthritis, or a loved one, please talk with your doctor about ways you can stay active too!
Do you have a tip you’d like to share too?
We hope you found this article helpful – thank you for visiting with us today. Wishing you the best of health!
PS. Browse Amazon for Lateral Elliptical equipment – they will arrange for assembly and if you ever have problems, you can count on their customer service to help! They are amazing!