The hip joint is resilient and can withstand wear and tear and repetitive motions. Despite this resilience, the hip joint can sometimes become damaged or wear out due to aging. Hip pain is one of the common complaints, especially among older individuals. Hip pain occurs because of several factors and ranges from mild to severe. The pain will be felt around or inside the hip joint. Sometimes this pain remains localized to the thigh and groin area. The precise location of the pain determines the underlying cause and treatment plan. Pain inside the hip or around the groin area can point to problems with the hip joint. If pain is on the outside of the hip, outer buttocks, or upper thigh, it means ligament, muscle, or tendon problems. Sometimes hip pain can be due to underlying conditions and diseases. The most common cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis. Hip pain manifests as a sharp ache or burning sensation.
Types of Hip Pain
Hip pain is classified depending on the underlying cause. The following are the different types of hip pain that you can experience;
Tendinitis is a condition whereby tendons get inflamed. Tendinitis is the leading cause of acute hip pain. Most of the time, the situation occurs when you exercise a lot. Inflamed tendons are painful, but this pain usually goes away in a couple of days.
As you get older, arthritis risk will increases. Infamous types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Arthritis leads to the breakdown of the cushioning of the hip bones and inflammation of the joint. If left untreated, the pain worsens over time and may lead to joint stiffness.
Age results in weakening bones which end up leaving them more brittle. If you suffer from a fall, your bones will likely fracture in the process. Fractured bones, especially on the hips, can end up causing chronic hip pain. Treating the fracture should ease the symptoms.
This condition affects the tiny fluid sacs between the bone, tendon, and muscle tissues. These sacs also referred to as bursae, are responsible for fluid movement of the hip joint. When bursae become inflamed, it causes much pain in the affected area. This inflammation occurs due to repetitive activities that irritate or overwork the hip joint.
Tendon and muscle strain
Repeating strenuous activities can leave the tendons, muscles, and ligaments strained. This straining leads to inflammation that causes a lot of pain. In addition, the inflammation can make it hard to move the hip in severe cases.
The labral is the cartilage ring located at the outer rim of your hip joint socket. The cartilage acts as rubber, holding the ball of the thigh bone to the hip socket. It also cushions the hip joint against wear and tear. It is common among athletes and performers who engage in repetitive swinging and twisting movements.
This condition occurs when blood flow to the hip bone stops or slows down. When that happens, the tissues around the hip bone begin to die. Avascular necrosis can affect all kinds of bones in the body, but it’s most common on the hips. Underlying causes can include hip dislocation and hip fracture. In addition, long-term use of steroids like prednisone can also cause blood flow problems to the hips.
Snapping hip syndrome
While rare, snapping hip syndrome can cause chronic pain. The condition is common among athletes and dancers. When you have snapping hip syndrome, you hear a snapping sound in your hip when walking or standing up. The snapping sound usually points to a tear in the cartilage that holds the hip joints. Most cases are painless and need no treatment, but severe tears can cause pain.
Tumors and cancers
If a bone tumor grows or spreads to the hip bone, it can cause chronic hip pain. If you are always in pain, see a doctor to rule out bone cancer.
Symptoms of Hip Pain
The main symptom of hip pain is discomfort or pain inside and outside the hip joint.
Sometimes pain from other areas like the back or groin because of a hernia can leave your hip in pain.
If you have hip pain, you will notice that it gets worse the more you engage in physical activity; a common sign of arthritis.
Besides the pain, your range of motion might also reduce. Severe hip pain may result in limping!
Diagnosis of Hip Pain
If you develop hip pain that doesn’t improve in two weeks, go see a doctor. First questions will be asked about your current symptoms and if you have trouble moving because of the pain. They will also want to know when the symptoms started. The doctor will also order more tests to rule out medical conditions like arthritis. The doctor will order an X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan. These scans assess the condition of the hip bone and the extent of the damage if there is any. Blood tests check for such things as infections and chronic conditions like arthritis.
How to Treat Hip Pain
If rest and over the counter pain medications don’t improve the pain, consider the following:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs such as naproxen, diclofenac, and high dose ibuprofen can help relieve hip pain.
- Bisphosphonates: These medications help treat osteoporosis and Paget’s bone disease. The drugs slow down bone degeneration that could increase your risk of fractures.
- Physiotherapy: This involves activities and exercises to improve bone strength. A therapist will also work with you and guide you on what to do to reduce pain and improve your range of motion.
- Occupational therapy: If your hip pain occurs after certain activities, see a professional. The specialist will work with you to show you how to regain your independence. They will also advise you on special adaptations you can make in your home and workplace.
- Steroid injections: If your hip pain is due to inflammation, steroid injections might help.
- Surgery: Surgery is the last option if the damage to your hips is irreversible. Hip surgery corrects fractures to stabilize the bones and ligaments. Sometimes, the hip ball may need replacing following years of overuse. If your hip pain is due to arthritis and other treatment options are not helping, a complete hip replacement is necessary.
How to Live With Hip Pain
Hip pain may never go away unless you have hip replacement surgery. So how do you manage the pain and ensure it doesn’t worsen?
- Take painkillers as prescribed by your doctor.
- Exercise regularly to maintain healthy body weight. Sometimes hip pain can worsen if you are overweight. Losing weight should ease the pain.
- If you have hip pain, avoid carrying heavy objects.
- Don’t sit in very low chairs as this can bend your hips further, increasing your pain.
- Avoid engaging in activities like running downhill that may make the pain worse.
- Avoid standing for long. If you have to, wear flat shoes.
- Can you still exercise if you have chronic hip pain? You can still exercise if you have hip pain. The goal is to avoid straining the hip some more. So, make sure you stretch before any exercise. Also, opt for low-impact workouts like cycling and swimming rather than running.
- What are the common signs of arthritis? If you have hip pain, it’s only standard that you might worry about arthritis, especially if you are well advanced in age. Arthritis can cause pain around or in the hip. The pain can be sharp, dull, throbbing, aching, or burning. Your hip may also not move like before, and you may experience some stiffness.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!