Thigh pain is a very common complaint. It presents constant aching, or throbbing pain sometimes cramping in the thighs or it could be on and off, but the pain does not go away. It could be one thigh or both thighs. This pain could radiate down to the knees, legs and feet or up to the hips. The pain can be felt when sitting and lying down. It could cause trouble walking long distance. Thigh pain comes up or becomes worse after running.
The pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh, outer buttock or outside of knee is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues. The iliotibial band inflammation is one of the common causes of thigh pain. The iliotibial band is a band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. It provides stability to the knee and hip and helps prevent dislocation of those joints. The band may tighten and rub across the hipbone or the outer part of the knee. Each time the knee is bent or the hip flexed, the band rubs against bone. This is particularly common in runners, cyclists, and people who participate in other aerobic activities. Also the inflammation stimulates muscle contracting and this contributing to the pain. Acupuncture is very effective to reduce the inflammation and relax the muscles to release the pain.
There are other common causes of hip pain caused by soft tissue injury in the hip and acupuncture is a very effective treatment.
Hip bursitis or Trochanteric bursitis, pain is on the outside of the hip that is worse during activity and tenderness is in the area on the outside of the hip when pressing in.
Hip synovitis symptoms include pain in the hip joint during activity, at rest and at night.
Piriformis syndrome causes buttock pain that radiates down the leg.
Snapping hip, a hip pain with a snapping noise is heard or felt on the outer hip. Pain is not always present but can be felt at the front of the hip or side of the hip.
Hip tendonitis is inflammation of any one of a number of tendons in the hip. Pain develops gradually over time with tenderness around the hip.
Iliopsoas bursitis symptoms include pain at the front of the hip that may radiate down to the knee or even into the buttocks. Iliopsoas inflammation is the muscle or tendon becoming inflamed. It causes pain in the groin.
Meralgia paresthetica (MP) or lateral femoral cutaneous neuropath is a condition that also causes thigh pain and numbness. It is caused by injury or entrapment to the nerve that innervates to the thigh called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. This causes numbness or pain in the outer thigh. Pain is constant burning or lightening on the outer side of the thigh which is also extending to the outer side of the knee or spreading to the buttocks. It could be accompanied with numbness or tingling in the same area.
There was a report that 10 patients with MP were treated with acupuncture. These patients were aged 30-70 years with MP. The causes of MP were not clear. One patient had diabetes and several were obese. Three patients had inflammatory joint disease. Four patients were receiving high doses of analgesics. Average period of symptoms was 3-4 years. All had tried conservative treatment, physiotherapy or injections and two patients had refused surgery. All patients had tender points especially at acupuncture point GB31 and upper lumba spine. This points were less tender after acupuncture treatment. An average 4-5 sessions of acupuncture was given to these patients. Electroacupuncture was applied from second session. The pain scores for all 10 patients improved by at least 50%, including that of a patient with a 20 year history. At 3-36 months follow-up, improvement was 100%. Most patients were able to stop their analgesics.
Iliotibial band syndrome
The iliotibial band (IT band) is a thick band of fibers on the outside part of the thigh. It starts from the border of the most prominent bone of the pelvis and ends into the tibia bone, to which the gluteal muscles and tensor fscia latae muscle attached. IT band coordinates muscle function and stabilize the knee during running. This band is one of the most common overused among the runners causing Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS is caused by inflamed of IT band. When it happens, knee pain is the most common symptom and can be mild to severe. Also the lateral thigh pain is associated. Pain is most severe with the heel strike of walking or running and may radiate from the knee up the leg to the hip. Pain may also be felt with knee flexing, especially going up or down steps. Swelling on the outside of the knee can be seen in some cases. Tightness of IT band is very common. MRI can show a partial thickening of the IT band, which results from inflammation. When the IT comes near the knee, it becomes narrow, and rubbing can occur between the band and the bone. This causes inflammation. ITBS is more common in women, possibly because some women's hips tilt in a way that causes their knees to turn in. Tenderness over the site of the iliotibial band insertion at the knee joint, and specific tender points may be found over the lateral femoral condyle.
Initial treatment for most overuse injuries remains the same: rest, ice, elevation and antiinflammatory medications. If the pain prolonged, it can become chronic. Physical therapy is often used to treat ITBS. Acupuncture is effective to treat acute and chronic ITBS. It releases the pain and inflammation; reduces tightness of IT band; improves circulation.
Hamstring muscle strain
The hamstring muscle group is made up of three separate muscles: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris. They originate from the lower part of the pelvis, lie on the back of the thigh and insert into the back of the shin bone. They mainly bend the knee and extend (straighten) the hip joint when contracting. Hamstring strain is a very common condition. When the muscles are pulled, a sudden sharp pain at the back of the thigh can be felt. This pain is sudden onset often after certain activity. The muscle will often feel tight and tender and go into cramp. Walking may be painful. In severe case, there could be swelling and bruising. It is likely to get hamstring strain, if the activities involved in hamstring such as running, jumping or sudden stopping and starting; if you don’t warm up before exercising, if the muscles in front of the thigh are tight since they pull the pelvis forward and tighten the hamstring, if glutes are weak, Glutes and hamstring work together weak glutes can make hamstring overloaded and become strained. Acupuncture can reduce the pain and help hamstring recovery.
ReferencesAigner N et al Schmerz (1997) 11:113-5
Alexander RE Acupunct (2013) 31:435-9
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Acupuncture specialist for Fertility, Facial rejuvenation, Pain relief.
Based at Kensington and Harley Street Central London.Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Over 25 year research and clinical experiences
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