Physical therapy for hip, leg, and foot pain
The lower extremity is a combination of bones, joints, and soft tissue (including muscle) responsible for bearing our bull body weight, helping with balance, and maintaining proper alignment. When anyone aspect of the lower extremity is weak or not functioning properly, the rest of the body compensates. If not addressed early on, this instability or misalignment can lead to additional sources of pain. Physical therapists use comprehensive, full-body evaluation to determine the causes of pain and dysfunction. As the first line of defense, physical therapy’s non-surgical approach is noninvasive, conservative, and cost-efficient.
Osteoarthritis of the hip
Osteoarthritis of the hip occurs when the cartilage coverings on the ball and the socket of the hip wear out. It is worse when bearing weight on the affected leg. The range of motion is often limited, especially internal rotation and hip flexion. However, with joint mobilization and stretching, significant pain relief can occur.
A strain to the quadriceps, hamstring, gastrocnemius (calf), or adductor (groin) muscle is often the result of quick sprints or stops or sudden changes in direction. With a muscle strain, there is localized tenderness or a “bulge” in the tender area. The pain can be aggravated by walking, going up or downstairs, raising the heel, standing up, or lifting the leg. Sometimes a pulling or pop may be noted. Physical therapy can help rehabilitate a muscle strain, and also provide the knowledge around strengthening and proper body mechanics to avoid future injury.
Fractures and stress fractures in the leg
Fractures or broken bones may involve the outside or inside of the leg. The signs and symptoms of fractures are pain, swelling, and body deformities. Following x-rays, casting, or surgery, physical therapy can help the body heal and restore the patient’s ability to move properly. Types of fractures include compound, transverse, oblique, and comminuted. A bad fall or blow to the hip can break the thigh bone around the femoral neck region. Stress fractures, however, are the result of repetitive submaximal loads applied to the foot, ankle, or leg. They are often the result of overuse, especially in athletes who undergo heavy training, such as long-distance runners. Stress fractures are especially common in female athletes. Pain and point tenderness occurs in the stress fracture sites, and most heal with rest and a proper return to activity training plan from a physical therapist.