The joint in your hip is a ball and socket that is the body’s largest and perhaps most complex. It lies within an intricate mass of nearly 30 muscles. Hip bones fit together in a way that allows for fluid movement. A cushion of cartilage prevents friction between the bones.
When the muscles weaken, or the cartilage is injured or wears down, the resulting hip pain can be debilitating. Hip pain can also be caused by problems in the spine or legs. It is important for you to consult with the skilled professionals at Northwest Extremity Specialists for an examination to determine where in the body the pain originates.
Is Your Hip Pain Acute or Chronic?
Acute hip pain is a common type of pain usually associated with a traumatic injury to the hip. It is often sharp, intense, and short-lived. If the bone pops out of its socket, it is called a dislocation. Often, older people fall and cause the hip bone to fracture.
Chronic hip pain is pain that lasts for more than 90 days. Most often, chronic hip pain is due to aging, genetic factors, or overuse. Young people who perform high-intensity athletics or dance can experience chronic hip pain as well.
What Causes Hip Pain?
Hip pain, whether acute or chronic, could have any number of causes. An orthopedic specialist will do a thorough exam to determine which of the following is causing your pain:
- Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common cause of hip pain, occurs when the protective cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears down, leading to joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
- Bursitis. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that cushion and lubricate the joints. Hip bursitis can cause pain and tenderness in the hip area, often worsened by prolonged standing, walking, or repetitive motions.
- Tendinitis. Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of the tendons, which are thick bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. In the hip, tendinitis commonly affects the tendons of the hip flexors or gluteal muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.
- Hip fracture. A hip fracture typically occurs in older adults due to weakened bones, often caused by osteoporosis. A fall or direct trauma can result in a fracture, leading to severe hip pain, limited mobility, and the need for immediate medical attention.
- Muscle strain. Overuse, sudden movements, or improper lifting techniques can strain the muscles around the hip joint, leading to pain and discomfort. Strained muscles can cause localized pain or radiate to the buttocks, groin, or thigh.
Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor will develop the appropriate treatment plan.
Possible Treatment Options for Hip Pain
To relieve the pain in your hips, an orthopedic specialist might recommend one of the following treatments:
- Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be prescribed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with hip conditions. Analgesics or pain medications may also be recommended to manage moderate to severe hip pain.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of hip pain. It involves targeted exercises, stretches, and manual techniques to improve hip joint mobility, strengthen supporting muscles, and alleviate pain.
- Injections. In some cases, corticosteroid or platelet-rich plasma injections may be administered directly into the hip joint to provide temporary pain relief by reducing inflammation. Additionally, hyaluronic acid injections can help lubricate the joint and provide cushioning for individuals with hip osteoarthritis.
- Surgery. If conservative treatments fail to alleviate hip pain or when the underlying condition is severe, surgery may be considered. Surgical options can vary depending on the specific diagnosis but may include procedures such as hip replacement surgery, arthroscopy, or repair of fractures. Surgery is typically considered as a last resort when other treatment options have been exhausted or when the condition significantly affects daily life.
In most cases, prompt medical attention can help you avoid the worst outcomes, but when hip replacement surgery is the best option to get you back to doing the activities you love, you can trust the team at Northwest Extremity Specialists to provide expert care.