Having hip, knee and ankle pain is common especially as we age. Hip, knee and ankle pain being felt all at once can be debilitating and make walking or even standing harder. You may think that your hip, knee and ankle pain are all unrelated and caused by different things. They are in different body parts, after all. However, one condition or injury could be causing all of this discomfort.
Causes of hip, knee and ankle pain
You may be dealing with a condition or injury that is causing your hip, knee and ankle pain. Injuries can usually be linked to a certain event that caused the pain, like a sharp blow or a hard fall. However, if you have a chronic condition starting to develop, it could also be the source of your hip, knee and ankle pain combination.
It is important to pay attention to your symptoms to make sure that an injury or chronic condition does not worsen over time. If you ignore your pain or other symptoms, you could be allowing an injury or chronic condition to become worse. Not only can doing this make your injury recovery or condition management much harder, but you also could be risking not being able to fully recover.
Here are a few of the injuries and chronic conditions that can trigger hip, knee and ankle pain at the same time:
- Hip misalignment
A misalignment in your hip can cause pain throughout your entire leg. This issue typically causes one of the legs to appear longer than the other, but the underlying cause of hip misalignment is that the hip is abnormally rotated either forward or backward. This issue can make you unsteady when you’re running, walking or even standing. A misalignment of the hip can also cause a ripple effect in the body as pain can be shooting throughout the leg and even into the lower back. You may also experience symptoms like:
- An uneven gait.
- Tightness or restricted range of motion in the hips.
- Sciatica (pinching of the sciatic nerve).
If you think your pain may be connected to a hip misalignment, it is important to meet with a medical professional like a physical therapist to determine if this issue is causing your symptoms.
- Sprains or strains
A sprained ankle can affect the knee and hip because of how interconnected the legs are. It has been shown that ankle sprains can lead to a chronically unstable ankle, and since the ankle balances the leg, ankle sprains can affect the rest of the leg.
Sprained ankles aren’t the only sprains or strains that can cause hip, knee and ankle pain. You could have a hip strain or sprain in other parts of your leg. These kinds of injuries can happen during a car accident or because of a sharp blow directly to the leg. You may also be at risk of future sprains or strains after you have developed them once. Symptoms of a strain or sprain can include:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the injured area of the leg.
- Pain that radiates into other areas of the leg.
- Tenderness in the injured area.
- Swelling or bruising in the injured area of the leg.
A strain or sprain in your leg can not only affect the entire leg, it can even affect parts of your lower back.
Overusing your legs can cause hip, knee and ankle pain. There are many people who may be overusing their legs, such as anyone who walks or stands a lot when they’re at work. People who do lots of running or heavy lifting may also be experiencing leg overuse. Over time, the added strain on your legs caused by overuse could trigger inflammation, pain or an injury. For instance, unaddressed leg overuse can develop into a stress fracture, sprain or strain.
- Hip osteoarthritis
Hip osteoarthritis can cause pain all the way to the ankle. This type of pain is known as radiating pain because of the way it travels from the affected area throughout the leg. In severe cases, an arthritic hip can cause pain all the way to the ankle, and walking, standing up, or bending down can become increasingly difficult and painful. This condition can also lead to the muscles in the hip becoming smaller and weaker. Typically, these muscles weaken because the person with arthritis doesn’t want to move around as much. Some other common symptoms of hip osteoarthritis include:
- A dull, aching pain in the outer thigh, groin, buttocks, knee or ankle.
- Limited range of motion in the affected hip.
- Pain that’s worse in the morning or after sitting or resting.
- Pain that lessens with activity.
- A limp or other irregular gait issues.
The sciatic nerve branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. This condition can be caused by a herniated or slipped disc or osteoarthritis. It can also develop from an injury to the lower back or from developing spinal stenosis. Usually sciatica only affects one side of the body, but it can in some cases affect both. Sciatica pain often begins in the back and can radiate down either leg. Sciatica pain can feel sharp or shooting or like jolts of pain. Other common sciatica symptoms are numbness, tingling, and weakness throughout the leg(s).
SOL PT can help you understand and treat hip, knee and ankle pain
This list is not a complete list or even full description of what could be causing your hip, knee and ankle pain. Instead, these are some of the common causes. To learn more about your pain and what could be causing it, you should talk to a licensed medical professional, such as one of SOL Physical Therapy’s licensed physical therapists.
Our expert physical therapists are versed in how the body moves and acts as a whole and can help you determine the cause of your pain. We can develop a pain treatment or management plan that best suits you. Don’t ignore your pain; start your journey to healing and getting back to moving freely.
Contact our team today for more information about how we can help you on this journey or to schedule an initial appointment with us.