Hip pain is a common complaint that affects millions of Americans – most often the elderly – and can be caused by a variety of problems from bone trouble to muscle and ligament tension. The hip is a ball and socket joint which connects to a number of soft tissues, tendons, and muscles, giving it a wide area that can be affected by pain. There are several types of hip pain, and the location, intensity, and range can greatly inform a diagnosis, providing clues as to the underlying cause.
As mentioned, hip pain can be caused by a number of problems. Pain that manifests in the groin and inside of the hip is more likely to be caused by bone and joint problems. Pain on the outside of the hip, upper thigh, and buttocks is commonly a sign of muscle and tendon strain.
Common causes of hip pain include (but are not limited to):
- Pulled Hamstring
- Groin Strain
- Hip Fractures
- Hip flexor strain
The most serious cases of hip pain are caused by fractures. Fractures are more likely to occur with age as bones become weaker and falls become more dangerous. Many of the less serious offenders can still cause a great deal of pain, but these can heal with care and rest.
Preventing Hip Pain
While hip pain is most common in the elderly it can happen to anyone of any age. Often, hip pain is a result of overuse or extreme physical activity. It is important to maintain good stretching habits and refrain from participating in high intensity exercise that you are not used to. Avoid running on concrete, wear cushioned shoes, and consider switching to lower intensity exercise such as swimming.
Home Care – Living with Hip Pain
Many people live with hip pain and do not seek medical attention. Chronic pain should be a signal to contact a professional, but in the case of mild muscle aches and pains there are plenty of at-home measures that can help alleviate discomfort. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain and take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It is also suggested that you sleep on the side that is not in pain and keep a pillow between your legs to ease the distribution of weight. Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and wear properly soled shoes for support. These simple steps can help you manage your hip pain.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Hip pain can be a serious issue that leads to deterioration of bones and an inability to walk properly. If your hip pain lasts more than a week consider seeking a doctor. You should seek a medical professional immediately for any of the following reasons:
- Sudden onset hip pain
- Intense, shooting pain
- Hip pain as a result of a fall
- Joint appears deformed or is bleeding
- If you are unable to support your weight on the side that is experiencing pain
- You heard a popping noise when the pain began
Not all hip pain is created equal. Some situations are far more serious than others. While some hip pain can be treated with massage, therapy, and rest, some other hip injuries may require surgery. There are several conditions that can damage the hip joint, eventually necessitating a hip replacement. These conditions are:
- Osteoarthritis – Damages the cartilage that helps the joint move smoothly
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – Produces inflammation that can erode bones & cartilage
- Osteonecrosis – Reduced blood flow to the hip can cause the bone to collapse
Hip surgery is not something to be taken lightly so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor. If pain persists despite prescribed medicine or you have trouble walking and standing up or the pain interferes with your sleep, you may be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.
To learn more about hip pain and how we can help, please contact us today. Hampton Roads Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is proud to offer a variety of treatment options from medicine’s best specialists. We look forward to supporting you on your road to recovery.