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Can infrared Therapy help debilitating chronic hip pain?

August 05, 2021 6 min read

Chronic hip pain – When being hippy is no longer cool



Hip pain is a common and debilitating condition that affects people of all ages. The causes of hip pain are broad, which can make it difficult for health practitioners to diagnose the exact problem. People can experience pain in multiple locations from the groin, to the buttocks or in the side of their hip making it all the more difficult to determine the exact inflamed location and cause [1]. 


To have an understanding of why hips can get sore it helps to know exactly what the hips are. The hip is the largest weight bearing joint in the human body. It is formed by the hip socket within the pelvic bone and the rounded ball-type structure at the top of the thigh bone. It is the joint that allows walking, bending, squatting and sitting, for example. Between the ball and socket there is a smooth cartilage covering the two bony surfaces. This provides a cushion that allows the bones to move around as a unit without friction. Ball joints provide a large range of motion. When compared to the knee joint, known as a hinge joint, the motion that a ball joint gives becomes obvious. Around the hip joints there are also many supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons that allow for movement but also provide the stability of the joint.


All of the parts of the hip come together to form a strong and mobile joint but these structures coming together means that there is more room for problems to occur. Think of joints similar to a complex machine or engine. The more moving parts there  are in the machine, the more places problems can happen. The same can be said for joints. 


What are the most common causes of hip pain? 


  1. Injuries - falls, slipping over, sporting activities or car accidents, for example. This can result in fractures, strained muscles or inflamed tendons and ligaments [2]. 
  2. Lower back problems [2]
  3. Disease occurring from a broken or deteriorated bone, bursitis, or worn cartilage [2]. 
  4. Arthritis – The most common form of arthritis that forms in the hips is osteoarthritis [2]. When the cartilage thins out and breaks down the unprotected bone surfaces rub against each other and cause extreme pain. Read this previous blog post to know more about arthritis. [LINK ARTHRITIS ARTICLE HERE FOR SEO]
  5. Pinched nerves [2]
  6. Medications that weaken bones such as prednisone [2]

Are there other associated conditions that can occur along with hip pain?


Avascular necrosis

Some of the hip injuries listed above can lead to a condition called avascular necrosis. This occurs when the blood supply to the ball at the top of the thigh bone is cut off and the bone begins to break down causing the cartilage on top of it to collapse. This results in cartilage beginning to deteriorate which produces further pain and other symptoms. Occasionally avascular necrosis occurs without a known cause [3]. It has become an increasingly common cause of disability. About 50% of cases happen in both hips at the same time [3]. The most common treatment is hip replacement surgery. This type of surgery often requires a long time on a waiting list. After surgery there is then the recovery time and rehabilitation to contend with. 


What if there was another option? Here is an example of what can happen if the time on the waiting list is taken advantage of. A 55-year-old woman has been suffering with avascular necrosis for 5 years but decided that surgery wasn't for her after that time. She decided to try infrared acupuncture for pain control. This type of therapy is using a system similar to the ClinicRed tools but applying it in specific locations which are used by acupuncturists. This woman's treatment was 3 courses of 20 treatments lasting for two minutes each. She also had a two month break in between courses [3]. In the first course the treatment was every other day to help quickly reduce the pain. For the next two courses she had the treatment weekly since her pain was already reduced. This person experienced reduced pain but even better, the results could be seen by MRI and xray [3]. Regeneration of the ball of her thigh bone could be seen. In one leg she went from a grade VI to BII and in the other she went from a grade V to CII [3]. That’s a huge improvement!


Hip bursitis

A large proportion of cases of hip pain are caused by hip bursitis. A bursa is a closed, fluid-filled sac that works as a cushion to reduce friction between tissues of the body. When a bursa becomes inflamed it is known as bursitis. It is a common condition but often occurs in women aged 45 – 80 [4].

The main causes of hip bursitis are:

  1. Abnormal patterns of walking [4]
  2. Standing too long [4]
  3. Having different length of legs [4]
  4. Lying on one side of the body too long [4]
  5. Traumatic & minor accidents [4]
  6. Overuse [4]
  7. Previous hip surgery or hip replacement [4]
  8. Scoliosis or other spinal diseases [4]

It is usually diagnosed by ultrasound. Bursitis is a common and debilitating cause of hip pain. Hip bursitis is usually managed with stretching, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections [4]. Hip bursitis often ends up leading to chronic pain and a reduction of quality of life. 


Infrared technology has been seen to result in almost complete remission and a return to daily activities. In this example, a 33 year old woman had a three year history of escalating severe hip bursitis pain which has been unresponsive to treatments given. Two treatments of infrared light were given which resulted in a noticeable reduction in pain which lasted for more than 3 months after the treatment. This study showed that infrared light offered a safe, non-invasive and effective treatment method for bursitis and hip pain. [4] 


Hip replacements 

Over 300,000 Americans receive hip implants each year [5]. As mentioned, this type of surgery has wait times for surgery and also healing time. Luckily, most hip surgeries are usually successful even though it is a very invasive treatment. 


To all those people who have gone bionic and joined Team Titanium or are on the waiting list for their membership, they might be wondering if infrared and red technology is safe for them. Red Light Therapy is considered safe for people who have metal/joint replacements as, at this time, there doesn't seem to be any studies which advise against it. The same can be said for pacemakers. Having said that, it is not medically advised to use it near a pacemaker. The best advice is to speak to a medical practitioner or contact the pacemaker/metal manufacturer of the item that has been or will be fitted. This is a standard FDA warning for any light therapy devices. Every person and situation is different so it is best to get individual advice. 


When given the go ahead from a doctor, infrared can help to recover from hip replacement surgery. It will help to heal the tissues, mend the surgery incision, rejuvenate the nerve endings and speed up the healing process. Studies show that using red and infrared light on both open and sutured wounds leads to improved collagen production, wound stiffness and improved wound contraction which results in a more successfully healed surgical site [6]. Infrared light has also been shown to be effective in decreasing pain intensity and post-surgery inflammation in patients who have hip replacements and other surgery [7].


This article has explained more about the causes of hip pain but, regardless of what the underlying cause is, infrared and red light technology is a safe, economical, non-invasive and easy to use therapy to address it. So, how about trying the ClinicRed products to go from hip pain to hip and happening? Or maybe to go back to that care-free hippy? Alright, enough of the lame puns!!




References


[1] Wilson J.J, and Furukawa M., Evaluation of the Patient with Hip Pain, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, January, 2014,   https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0101/p27.html


[2]  Health Direct Australia, Hip pain, Australian Government, March, 2020,  https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hip-pain


[3] Jafarian, Ali & Farhoodi, Ali & Momeni, Mahnoush & Babaei, Mohammad & kazemi khoo, Nooshafarin, Clinical and Radiographic Alterations in Bilateral Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head Following Laser Acupuncture: A Case Report. Journal of Lasers in Medical Sciences, April 2018, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324971551_Clinical_and_Radiographic_Alterations_in_Bilateral_

Avascular_Necrosis_of_the_Femoral_Head_Following_Laser_Acupuncture_A_Case_Report 


[4] Janz, S., Greater trochanter bursitis and infrared laser therapy: a case series, Kenmore Centre for Health, November 2009, https://www.kenmorecentreforhealth.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Abstract_-Greater-trochanter-bursitis_WFAS-2009.pdf


[5] Turner, T., Hip Replacement, Drug Watch, 2021 https://www.drugwatch.com/hip-replacement/


[6] Gál P., Stausholm M.B., Kováč I., Dosedla E., Luczy J., Sabol F., Bjordal J.M., Should open excisions and sutured incisions be treated differently? A review and meta-analysis of animal wound models following low-level laser therapy, Lasers in Medical Science publication, August 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29603108/


[7] Langella L.G., Casalechi H.L., Tomazoni S.S., Johnson D.S., Albertini R., Pallotta R.C., Marcos R.L., de Carvalho P.T.C., Leal-Junior E.C.P, Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) on acute pain and inflammation in patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty-a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Lasers in Medical Science publication, December, 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29909435/


You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.