Because the bones of the musculoskeletal system are all connected, an imbalance in one area, such as hip alignment, can cause pain elsewhere. This is also true because misaligned bones can trap nerves, sending impulses to other areas of the body, such as the legs. In some cases, a hip deformity may be to blame. If you are experiencing a hip alignment problem, however, the real source of the irregularity may not be in your hip bones but in your feet or legs.
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Your doctor or chiropractor can correlate your symptoms with your current condition to find the underlying cause and prescribe treatment. The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these basic guidelines: If you felt recurrent leg pain, such as a burning in your thigh or a shooting pain in the lower leg, it may be caused by a nerve or joint injury stemming from the feet. If you had sudden, acute leg pain after a fall, hip trauma may have occurred.
A common cause of improper hip alignment and knee or leg pain is a misalignment in the bones of the feet or in the length of the legs. Although our bodies are in theory symmetrical, both sides are not alike. Individual foot size and composition can vary, as can the bones of the left and right legs. A discrepancy can effect a shift in pelvic alignment. When the hip bones are not level, a nerve may be pinched, or the muscles and joints on one side may receive too much stress. Chronic knee or leg pain is the result.
A congenital deformity in your hip bones, a fracture brought on by osteoporosis or an accidental break will cause immediate, sharp pain. In other words, you usually know it right away if a broken bone in the hip area is the source of your pain. Osteoarthritis is another possibility when aching in the hips accompanies painful legs. You may also be affected by an overuse condition such as piriformis syndrome, a tightening of the hip rotator muscles.
To relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis or strained hip muscles, your doctor may prescribe topical applications, strengthening exercises or medication. A fracture or damage to the hip joints or pelvis may require hip replacement surgery.
Less severe, chronic pain in the knee or leg makes it more likely that your hip alignment problem should be treated via your feet. The American Chiropractic Association suggests that some issues of overpronation or leg length can be addressed with custom-molded orthotics. Orthotic inserts and heel lifts are worn inside your shoes to compensate for your bone irregularity. This levels your pelvis, taking the strain off your knees, legs and hip bones. When worn consistently, shoe orthotics can diminish or eliminate your chronic pain.