Although I normally do a lot of trail running, I've been road running for the last few months due to weather. Recently, I started having pain in my right hip when I run. I can't put my finger on it and it only hurts when there is weight on that leg (like if I stand on that leg when putting my sock on the opposite foot.) I don't know if it's better to keep running on it or give it a rest. I've been wearing my trail shoes, so perhaps that could be a culprit. Any idea/advice?
I had a similar problem last fall while training for a marathon. I was diagnosed with a hip stress fracture. Initially the doctors thought that I had pulled my groin muscle as it was hard to pinpoint exactly where the pain was, though it was centered around my inner thigh/hip area. However, I could not bear weight on that leg without pain. Similar to you, I could not put my sock on the opposite foot without holding on to something. It got to the point where I could not stand on that leg without holding on to something. It took several weeks to be diagnosed with the stress fracture and then only after seeing an Orthopedist and having an MRI. I was on crutches for 8 weeks and have been back running/jogging now for 2 months but it is slow going. My problem was not figuring out what was wrong soon enough and continuing to use that leg. Perhaps checking with an orthopedist might help.
Advice? Stop running immediately. Take at least 3 days off from running. If you are someone who goes crazy without working out, stick to non-impact exercise such as swimming, cycling (not spinning - standing in the pedals puts too much pressure on your hip) and upper body weights. After 3 days off, try an easy, flat, slow run. If it hurts, stop. If after half a mile you're pain free, go for a mile. Don't go more than a couple miles and ONLY if pain free. If you do have pain in that run, rest another 3 days and try again. If after all that time off, you still hur when you run, go to a doctor.
As the other poster said, hip injuries are often misdiagnosed or hard to diagnose because symptoms of one injury often overlap others. If you go to a doctor, go to a sports or orthopedic doc. Many do both so search for a clinic that has those on staff. Make sure they do more than take an x-ray. They need to do an MRI or bone scan to rule out a stress fracture because many of them don't show up on x-rays.
Good luck, hopefully it is something simple but again, I agree with the other poster that it sounds a lot like the symptoms I had when I had a femoral neck stress fracture. So please be very careful and get it checked out if some rest doesn't make it better.
I think these are the common ones - although there certainly are lots of options for what it could be. I'd get to a doc - especially to eliminate the first bullet.
* Stress fracture. That's the nasty one. As others have said - be really careful. I believe one sign (not definitive) is that if pain increases with activity then you're more likely to have a stress fracture.
* Is the pain on the outside of the hip? If so could it be ITBS? You mentioned more than normal road running. Do you run on the same side of the road all the time? The camber in the road can cause one hip to get more stressed than the other.
* Piriformis Syndrome? When I had this driving really aggravated it. You might try this stretch on both sides and see if you feel a noticable difference.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
There are often good intentions behind advice to look for the rare and dire, but it is also a major reason why our healthcare system costs so much. Doctors rightly fear being sued for failing to render a thorough diagnosis, and they know insurance companies won't pay if the cause of patient discomfort appears to be too trivial. Even if it is easy to actually fix, it is usually in their best interest to go through all the slow expensive motions of covering all the bases.
A little knowledge of myofascial pain, however, can save you a lot of time and needless wealthcare.
Every time you stand on one leg, you use more than your hip. If standing were up to the bones and ligaments only, we would all collapse into a pile of them. A few important muscles located on your pelvis that anchor to your hip bone (specifically, to the greater trochanter of your femur) bear twice your weight while standing on one leg. This is because they are at a disadvantage, leverage-wise, in that position. Nevertheless, it is their job to stabilize the pelvis, and when they become injured by running trails, running canted roads, or hopping on the floor pulling socks or pants on/off, they can produce symptoms exactly as you describe and beyond. Since running multiplies G-forces to your foot by three, it is easy to see what a combination of all these activities can do to soft tissue like muscles, long before there is any danger to your much tougher bones.
The two most important of these muscles, Gluteus Minimus and Gluteus Medius, are located between the upper end of the exposed portion of the femur (greater trochanter, which moves up and in while your leg is moving out to the side), and the upper rim of the pelvis between side and rear. Between these muscles are important nerves that when compressed by swelling, can cause symptoms of sciatica up and down the thigh to the knee in extreme cases. Ordinarily, there will be the pain you describe along with difficulty standing straight. You may have a mild case caused by shifting to the uneven (canted) side of the road surface. Trails may be rough, but they usually mix up the gradients better.
This is where the tennis ball cure, which Jim has mentioned in previous posts, comes into play. Take a tennis ball to bed with you and lay on it, positioning it into the area occupied by the Glute Minimus/Medius muscles and rolling it around some. It will help locate any damage to these muscles, stimulate healing blood flow to them, and it won't hurt your bones... you may even find an exiting new bed partner!
Here's a helpful visual aid for locating the minor glutes (click on muscle name)...
I'm not trying to paint the picture of doom and gloom or predict the rare and dire, however, I'm sure we can all agree that hip injuries are generally, 1) not something to mess around with and 2) unfortunately becoming far less rare. IMO, it is much better to go and at least attempt to get a diagnosis at this point than to continue with self-remedies. I did that for over a month - telling myself that "oh, it's just a muscle strain" until the pain started significantly affecting my gait and I finally blew up in a half marathon and had to walk most of it. I was fortunate that I had a doctor who immediately requested the appropriate tests to rule out an stress fracture because he too was thinking "just a muscle strain" but the MRI showed differently. Again, fortunately, we caught it early and I was only out 6 weeks and then built back up running slowly. Hip injuries can be very serious and to continue to fool oneself into thinking "it's nothing serious" and to self-treat can meet with dire consequences. As for me now, I don't mess around when I feel more than moderate soreness - I go to a doctor and I find out what's going on. I don't want to risk the rest of my running life because I didn't make a wise decision to find out early what is wrong. With hip injuries, I'd rather be over-cautious and find out nothing is really wrong than to continue to mess around and potentially get myself really hurt.
Don't get me wrong, I very much respect your opinion and think you give great advice, but having suffered two hip injuries in two years, it's better to not mess around.
I have to agree with HeatherW...I too waited way to long to see someone that could properly diagnose my hip stress fracture. I too thoght I had just pulled a muscle and although cut back on my running was still doing a significant amount of walking. By the time I was diagnosed it had gotten pretty bad and took several months to heal. Unfortunately, my doctor told me that he was seeing more and more women coming in with stress fractures and that women tend to be more prone to these types of injuries. I hope everything works out for you....
I third HeatherW's advice. If you haven't already done so, stop running immediately and give yourself some time off. If the pain doesn't improve, then start the medical process. My story? I was training for a half and while I was out on a simple and easy run I had pain. I gave myself a week off. It didn't get better. I could no longer run. Meanwhile, I felt relatively fine walking. After going through the healthcare rigamarole of seeing a PCP first, an orthopedist, a long wait to get an MRI, a referral to a hip specialist, months of therapy, I just had surgery to repair my hip labrum and osteoplasty to prevent my hip from injuring this muscle lining again. Best of luck to you. You don't want to mess with this.