What is Trochanteric Pain?
Trochanteric pain is a localized painful condition affecting your outer thigh and the hip area where the pain is typically confined to only the outer side of the thighbone (femur) at the edge of the hip. Trochanteric pain most commonly occurs as a result of osteoarthritis of the hip and trochanteric/hip bursitis.
The trochanter is a bony prominence (projection or protuberance) of the thighbone near its joint with the hip bone. It serves as a site for muscle attachment.
Anatomically, your femur has two trochanters:
- Greater trochanter – The outside ball at the top of the femur. This is also called the major or outer trochanter
- Lesser trochanter – The inside knob at the top of the femur
These trochanters together act as a point where the hip and thigh muscles attach.
Hip Strengthening Exercises for Trochanteric Pain
Exercising may perhaps be the last thing on your mind to do when your joints are stiff and painful. Nevertheless, exercise is a significant part of treatment of trochanteric pain to help ease pain and keep you active. Hip strengthening exercises play a crucial role to restore normal hip function and improve flexibility and strength by specifically targeting joints and muscles of the hip for better management of trochanteric pain. Here are some exercises that are designed to stretch, strengthen, and stabilize your hips.
- Walking: Walking at a convenient pace either outdoors or indoors is a very good exercise. If you have issues with balance, using a treadmill with no incline helps you to hold on and walk. You can improve flexibility and posture, strengthen leg muscles, and ease your joint pain with simple walking exercise.
- Hip bridges: Lie down flat on your back on the floor. With bent knees and feet firmly on the floor, rest your palms down near your hips. Now, lift your buttocks as high as possible with a straight back and slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 5 sets of 20 repetitions. This exercise works on the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and lower back.
- Lying lateral leg raises: Lie on the side of your body with arm extended out for balance. Lift your leg up as far as you can and slowly bring your leg back down in a controlled motion. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and turn to the other side of the body to perform the same repetitions on the other leg. This exercise helps to develop and strengthen your iliotibial band (ITB) and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscles that stretch through the outside part of your upper leg.
- Prone hip extension: Lie flat on your belly with your legs extended straight behind you. Place your folded arms below your head and rest your forehead on your arms. Draw your stomach in towards your spine and stiffen your belly muscles. Now, tighten the thigh muscles and buttocks of the affected leg and lift the leg off the floor about 8 inches backward. Hold this position for 5 seconds with your leg held straight and slowly lower your leg to the floor. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.
- Straight leg raises: Lie on your back on the floor with your legs fully extended in front of you. Bend the knee on one side with your foot positioned flat on the floor. Now, tighten the thigh muscle on the other side of your leg and lift the leg about 8 inches off the floor. Keep this position for a few seconds and slowly lower your leg back down to the floor. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.
- The plank: Lie on your belly resting on your forearms. Hold your legs straight and lift your hips off the floor and position yourself to be in line with your shoulders. Maintain this position with your toes and forearms support and hold for 15 seconds. Do 2 to 3 repetitions and increase your hold time as you feel comfortable.
- Wall squat with a ball: Stand with your head, shoulder, and back against the wall. Keep your feet about 12 inches from the wall and shoulder's width apart. Place a basketball or soccer-sized ball behind your back. Maintaining your back firmly against the wall, gently bring your back down to an angle of 45-degree. Hold this posture for 10 seconds and slowly slide back up the wall. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Side-lying leg lifts: Lie on the side of your body on the floor. Now, stiffen the front thigh muscles of your leg and lift the leg about 1 foot away from the other leg. Maintain the leg straight as you lift up and slowly lower it to the start position. Switch sides and do 15 repetitions of 2 sets on each side.
- Side plank: Lie on the side of your body on the floor with your shoulders, hips, and legs maintained in a straight line posture. Prop yourself up on your forearm with the elbow positioned directly below your shoulder. Now, lift your hips off the ground and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Hold this position for 15 seconds and slowly lower your hip to the floor. Switch sides and repeat and slowly work up to increase the holding time for 60 seconds.
Gentle stretches and strengthening exercises for the hips can offer significant pain relief, improved mobility, and stronger muscles. There are several hips exercises that your physician can recommend to choose from for addressing trochanteric pain. People with trochanteric pain can experiment with different exercises under their physician’s guidance and choose the ones that work best for them and incorporate them into their daily exercise routine for better management of trochanteric pain.