What to do about arthritis hip pain and whether it’s time to seek help

If you avoid things you like or need to do because of pain, it’s time to talk to your health care provider.

Do you have stiffness, soreness or pain in your hip due to arthritis? How can you tell the difference between being a little sore after an activity or if it’s something to talk to your health care provider about?

The answer depends on the pain and how you treat it.

When you have pain, try these steps first:

  • Rest.  Avoid bending at the hip and any direct pressure, such as sleeping on the side with pain or sitting for a long period of time.
  • Take a pain reliever. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium may help lessen the pain.
  • Use ice or heat. Apply cold treatment, such as ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, to your hip for 15 to 20 minutes. Alternate with heat, such as a warm bath or shower. This may help loosen muscles so that you can do some stretching exercises, which can reduce pain.

Norton Orthopedic Institute

Our orthopedic care team sees thousands of patients a year. That means it has the experience to diagnose what’s hurting and give you precise treatment to minimize side effects and get you moving again.

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If these steps don’t work and you find yourself avoiding things you like or need to do because of the pain, it’s time to talk to your health care provider. If your pain isn’t that bad but it’s always present, you should still see your provider. Staying off your feet for too long can hurt more than it can help.

Your heath provider can perform a physical exam and may order an X-ray to see if the pain source can be found or if your arthritis has worsened. Some causes of hip pain can include hernias, back conditions, knee issues and muscle, tendon or cartilage issues. Your provider can work with you to come up with a treatment plan that’s unique to you. Just because you experience hip pain does not mean you’re ready for a hip replacement.

When hip pain is an emergency

Ask someone to drive you to an immediate care center or emergency room if an injury caused your pain and:

  • You can’t move your leg or hip.
  • You can’t put weight on the affected leg.
  • You feel intense pain.
  • There is sudden swelling.
  • You have signs of an infection (fever, redness, chills).
  • A bone appears broken.

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