Hip Pain

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Hip joint pain is a common complaint and has many possible causes. You can experience pain and discomfort deep in the joint itself, or in the surrounding tissues, muscles, ligaments and tendons. You might not feel pain from a damaged hip joint in the hip area itself. It may be felt in the groin, thigh or even the knee. The hip joint is one of the most stable joints in the body, but since it bears your weight, it is more likely to develop issues related to age, weight and several other factors.

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Hip Pain Causes

The hip is made up of two bones — the thigh bone (femur) and pelvis (which is made of three bones — the ilium, ischium and pubis). It is also made up of ligaments, tendons and muscles. Damage to these parts of the hip can cause discomfort, limited range of mobility, stiffness and pain. Hip pain can be triggered by injury or develop slowly as a symptom of a medical condition. Depending on the cause, pain may be mild to severe and may respond to a variety of treatments.

Structural or Mechanical

These are conditions that result from bones being out of place or abnormally shaped, or from soft tissue that has worn down or has become inflamed. These include:

  • Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis:  Wear and tear of the hip joint cartilage over time, or autoimmune conditions that affect joints, can all contribute to hip pain.
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI):Abnormality in the shape of the hip joint bones can cause friction and pain, pain during hip movement, stiffness, and limited range of motion.
  • Hip dysplasia: Abnormal development of the hip joint can lead to instability, pain and increased risk of dislocation. The condition is often present from birth or early childhood.
  • Nerve impingement or compression (pinched nerve): Conditions like sciatica, which is pain along the sciatic nerve, can cause hip pain. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks and then branches to each leg.

Traumatic Injuries

This is the sort of injury that you typically know when it happens. There is sudden and obvious pain. Such injuries include:

  • Fractures or sprains:Broken bones or sprains in the hip joint can result from falls, accidents, repetitive activities or osteoporosis.
  • Dislocations: The ball of the hip joint comes out of its socket, typically caused by high-energy trauma.
  • Muscle strains and tears: Injury or overuse can lead to strains or tears in the muscles surrounding the hip joint, such as the hip flexors or gluteal muscles. Pain, weakness, and limited range of motion can result.
  • Labral tears: Tears in the ring of cartilage (labrum) that surrounds the hip joint socket are often associated with a popping or catching sensation, and pain during hip movement.

Inflammation

These conditions involve the soft tissues of the hip. Pain can be caused by:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis:An autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic inflammation of the hip joint. People with the condition experience symmetrical joint involvement, systemic symptoms, morning stiffness and progressive joint damage.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae (fluid-filled sacs) that cushion the hip joint causes pain that worsens with movement or pressure on the affected area.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons in the hip region, such as the iliotibial (IT) band or the tendons of the hip flexors, is called tendinitis. Pain typically worsens with specific movements or activities.

Other Causes

  • Referred pain: Sometimes you may have an injury or condition in one part of the body that radiates to another part of the body. Pain in the hip actually can start in the low back and be felt in the hip.
  • Infection: An infection in a joint, such as the hip, is known as septic arthritis. The condition causes severe pain, swelling, warmth and other symptoms like fever.
  • Tumors: These may include primary bone tumors or metastatic cancer.

Treating Hip Pain at Home

Mild hip pain can be annoying, and there are things you can do at home to relieve symptoms.

  • Rest, and avoid prolonged sitting, pressure on the hip and sleeping on the affected side.
  • Pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help.
  • Ice in the form of ice cubes or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, or heat from a hot bath/shower can ease pain.

When to See a Doctor for Hip Pain

If these self-care treatments don’t work or your pain gets worse, call your doctor. The doctor may prescribe medication, perform tests such as X-rays or discuss physical therapy with you. You should also seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are unable to bear weight to stand.
  • Your hip made a popping sound accompanied by pain.
  • Your hip is visibly deformed after a fall or injury.
  • You have intense pain or sudden swelling.
  • You have osteoporosis and have fallen.

Hip Pain Treatment

If home remedies aren’t working, or your pain is getting worse or interfering with daily life, your health care team may talk to you about nonsurgical and surgical options for dealing with your specific hip pain.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Your Hip Pain

Your doctor might recommend you start with a nonsurgical treatment for hip pain, unless surgery is absolutely necessary. These may include:

  • Physical therapy: Many patients can reduce hip pain with strengthening exercises, stretching and other movement to improve hip joint stability, flexibility, and function. Physical therapy may make surgery unnecessary. If surgery is required, the muscle training from physical therapy can speed hip replacement recovery.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or prescription pain relievers can reduce inflammation.
  • Injections: Cortisone injections directly into the joint can improve pain within a few days.
  • Assistive devices: Using crutches, canes or walkers to decrease weight on the hip joint during walking or activities can help with mobility.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): A device delivers low-level electrical currents to the hip area to alleviate pain.

Hip Surgery

If home remedies and nonsurgical options are not effective, your health care team may recommend hip surgery.

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure to diagnose and treat certain hip conditions, such as labral tears or loose bodies. Samuel D. Carter, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute, has a series of videos about arthroscopy for the hip.

A total or partial replacement of the hip joint with artificial components is a surgical procedure to alleviate pain and improve joint function, typically for severe hip arthritis or fractures.

In hip resurfacing, small amounts of damaged bone or cartilage are trimmed away, and the hip joint surfaces are replaced with metal components, preserving more of the patient’s own bone. This procedure takes less bone from the joint and is typically most effective in younger patients with strong bones. 502-584-7525.

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Choose Norton Orthopedic Institute for Your Hip or Knee Replacement

  • Same-day appointments are available with no referral required. When you’re ready to take care of the pain, you want to get started.
  • Schedule your appointments online or call (502) 559-5500.
  • Our fellowship-trained and board-certified orthopedic surgeons have the experience you can trust. They perform more than 800 hip replacements and 1,000 knee replacements every year.
  • Robotic-assisted surgeries provide added precision when placing your new joint. This gives a more natural feel that more closely matches your unique anatomy. Minimally invasive techniques get you started on your recovery faster and often allow you to go home the same day as your surgery.
  • Choose from 30 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana for follow-up care.
  • Norton Healthcare is the first health system in the nation to be recognized as an Advanced Orthopedic & Spine Center of Excellence by DNV.
  • We help you get ready for surgery and through your recovery with educational programs available online and in person.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Your free Norton MyChart account allows you to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more from a mobile device or computer.

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