I've had hip problems off and on since about the age of 13 (I'm currently 26). This time, the problem was in my left hip & I had been seeing a chiropractor to take care of it. The pain started about 6 months ago. My husband and I recently took up golfing. We went to the driving range about 2 months ago & I foolishly didn't do any stretches or warm ups before hand. Towards the end of our session, I started to get some pain on the right side (the good side). I was already limping around from the left hip pain, so I didn't realize the serious injury I had just caused to my piriformis muscle in the right side.
The pain gradually built from there over the course of 2 weeks. My hamstring became tight, and then my calf, and it eventually worked its way into the bottom of my foot. Every time I would cough or sneeze, it would send a blood curdling pain down my whole leg. The mornings were always the worst - the first 2 or 3 hours specifically. It felt like somebody was twisting a large kitchen knife in several areas of my hip & leg. I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance & this would put me into screaming tears. After 2 weeks of living on the couch, depression kicked in. I wasn't sure if I would get my life back.
My house slowly became a nightmare of a mess. I just physically couldn't do anything. I had severe muscle spasms for the duration of that time which prevented me from achieving any kind of stretching. Sometimes if I got a pain, my leg would automatically curl up, I couldn't even control it. I couldn't bend over, let alone bend my neck down, because it would cause pain in my hip & leg. In fact, I almost bought a myself a cane. Instead I flipped one of my golf clubs upside down & used that.
Anyway, I can now walk, and yesterday for the first time in a long time, I was able to start cleaning my house. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted to share my approach to recovery. Yes, I should have gone to the doctor, however, I just left my job to start my own business & I just had to injure myself right after my insurance policy ended.
So... My essential recovery tools:
Exercise ball to take pressure off of hips. Just kneeling in front & leaning forward was amazing. I always used ice when doing this.
Also, we just bought memory foam for the bed... amazing!
My husband bought me Birkenstocks. These help to align the hips if you have high arches like mine.
Back brace - I found that the hip problem would cause me to become lopsided & created a curve in my spine. The brace helped to keep my back in alignment through the healing process.
Epsom salts in the bath, sometimes 2x per day. The magnesium penetrates into the muscles giving quick relief. Also, I found that moist heat works better than dry heat.
Ice, Ice, Ice.
Bengay (never after a hot bath... it will burn you severely).
Massage - my husband gave me a leg/buttock massage every night before bed & sometimes in the morning before he left for work... the Bengay is great for massage!!
Naproxen - great muscle relaxer, but I didn't find any pain relief.
Homeopathic medicine: two different kinds I found that work wonders are Hyland's Arnica & Hyland's Leg Cramps with Quinine. I could not have recovered so quickly without these.
Multivitamin packs to support joint & muscle health & recovery. I found one at GNC. These help with the muscle elasticity & cell regeneration. Especially Glucosamine, MSM, and Fish Oil. Mine is called "Womens Ultra Mega Joint Vitapak" (with Triflex).
Legatrin PM - before bed, I would take this to help me sleep & relieve severe leg cramps. It seems to work great!
Stretches. You can find some great Piriformis/Hamstring/Calf stretches on the internet, but only do this if your pain has been minimized... you can cause more damage if you're having frequent and unpredictable muscle spasms while trying to stretch. Don't over do the stretching either.
Listen to your body.
I hope this can help a few folks out there who are having similar problems. It took a lot of trial and error to get to this point in my recovery and a lot of tears and agony. I'm so grateful to be able to perform basic tasks & to get my life back!
Good luck! - Caresa