Hip pain can be a debilitating condition that hinders everyday activities, regardless of its cause or form. The hip joint plays a crucial role in supporting the body during movements such as walking, jumping, or running, making it susceptible to injury and pain later in life. Therefore, taking early steps to address the condition is essential.
While many people associate hip pain with ageing, it can affect anyone due to various causes, such as bursitis or arthritis. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available to alleviate hip pain and regain mobility.
This article provides information on the causes of hip pain and effective treatment options for long-term relief.
Common Causes of Hip Pain
As one of the most critical and stable joints, the hip helps you stay straight and upright. The hip comprises cartilage, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.
Any injury or damage to those parts will result in hip pain. Many factors usually cause arthritis pain. Some are described below:
Hip pain is frequently caused by arthritis, which occurs when the soft tissue surrounding the joints becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes swelling and can result in joint damage, making it challenging for individuals to carry out their daily activities.
Bursitis is an inflamed or irritated condition of the bursae. The bursae in the hip region are inflamed due to sudden injury, resulting in hip pain. Several studies show that hip bursitis is common among women and middle-aged individuals.
Tendinitis in the hip joints is caused due to overuse or repetitive stress on the tendons. It results in the inflammation of tendons and surrounding tissues, resulting in severe pain.
- Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains happen when the muscles supporting the hip joint stretch or tear. The extent of the damage can determine the level of restricted mobility in the hip area.
A hip fracture refers to the break or damage in the thigh bone (Femur) due to a direct blow or gradual stress to the hip regions. Individuals taking specific medications like sedatives have chronic musculoskeletal conditions and have a history of smoking/alcohol. Besides, they are also susceptible to fractures.
Now, let’s discuss how to diagnose hip pain in detail below.
Diagnosis of Hip Pain
If you notice persistent hip pain that doesn’t resolve within a few weeks, it is important to seek medical assistance from a specialist. Your initial diagnosing exam will include the following:
- Medical History and Physical Examination
Your healthcare professional will discuss your medical history and any relevant condition before your hip pain. Then they will examine your affected hip joints and ask you questions regarding the symptoms, discomfort, and how the injury occurred.
- Imaging Tests
After the initial physical evaluation, the doctor will instruct you to undergo imaging tests like X-rays and MRI scans to rule out other conditions like bone fractures. With this imaging procedure, the orthopedist can get a clear image of the internal structure of your bones and accurately diagnose the root cause of the hip pain.
- Blood Tests
Blood tests can diagnose conditions that cause hip pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or infections. These tests can also rule out certain conditions (such as infections or certain types of cancers) causing hip pain as a symptom.
Now that we have discussed ways to diagnose hip pain, let’s look at some of the non-surgical treatment options described below.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Hip Pain
- Rest and Activity Modification
Rest is often recommended as the primary and conservative treatment for hip pain, especially when it is accompanied by swelling. Resting the affected hip is essential to allow it to heal steadily. Besides, avoiding certain activities like lifting heavy objects and other high-impact activities will reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy
An expert physical therapist helps you enhance your range of motion and strengthens the muscles supporting your hip joints. An effective physical therapy program will reduce your pain and help you regain your flexibility in the hip area. For instance, you are assisted in performing low-impact exercises like walking on an anti-gravity treadmill and simple stretches to restore your mobility.
- Pain Medications
These pain medications are prescribed to ease inflammation and pain, slow the progression, and prevent joint damage. Some commonly used pain medications are NSAIDs, ibuprofen, and analgesics like acetaminophen and opioids.
- Injection Therapy
Injection therapy is a minimally invasive hip pain treatment that may provide either temporary or long-term relief, depending on the root cause. If you experience pain or inflammation again, a healthcare professional might recommend additional injection administration.
The doctor will determine the frequency and duration. Some of the injection types are corticosteroids and platelet-rich plasma injection therapy.
Surgical Treatment Options for Hip Pain
Surgery is a standard yet the last treatment option considered to heal hip pain. When a non-surgical approach hasn’t shown any positive response, and if your physician might recommend surgery, you are still struggling with pain.
It is a minimally invasive surgery using a small camera called an arthroscope to view the hip joints and repair the injured tissue.
Osteotomy involves reshaping femur joints and restoring your normal anatomy. It will alleviate the hip pain and allow a normal motion of the hip joints.
- Total Hip Replacement
It is a major surgical procedure involving removing damaged hip joints and replacing them with artificial ones for improved functionality.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Hip Pain
Instead of struggling with hip pain, you can follow certain lifestyle changes to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips for implementing in your day-to-day life.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, losing a few pounds affects your hip pain. Eating the right and nutritious foods and following proper exercise patterns will reduce the excess pressure on the hip joints.
- Regular Exercise and Stretching
Implementing a simple exercise routine is also important if you have hip pain. Research shows that exercise strengthens the leg muscles and alleviates hip pain. For instance, cycling and swimming are great cardiovascular activities that exercise minimal pressure on the hips.
- Proper Posture and Body Mechanics
Hip angle matters the most when sitting for a long time. An improper or unhealthy posture will unnecessarily strain your hip joints, making you suffer severe pain. Therefore, practicing proper posture according to your body mechanics is important to control or prevent hip pain.
- Avoiding Repetitive Motions that Cause Hip Pain
Avoid doing repeated movements that cause hip pain. Instead, take frequent breaks that will allow your body to repair the injury.
Your hips carry a heavy burden, being the largest weight-bearing joint and ensuring balance in every movement. They say hip pain is an evolutionary defect. However, it can be uncomfortable and significantly impact your life.
The condition affects both young and older adults. Some hip pain tends to resolve independently with rest and medications, while others may persist for a long time.
When you recognize the early symptoms of the condition, you should seek an effective treatment option for hip pain as soon as possible to prevent the degeneration and loss of functionality. Following proper lifestyle changes and customizing your treatment plan will help you lead a pain-free and healthy life again.