What is Hip Pain?
The hips are single largest support structure in the body, as they hold the entire torso upright. Located where the femur meets the pelvic socket, the hip joint is similar to other joints in that it is surrounded with protective cartilage. If this cartilage becomes worn down such as with age, or suffers direct injury, pain can occur in the hip.
What are the Causes of Hip Pain?
For Hip pain, the distinction in age may help with the determination of cause. There are some common causes:
- Arthritic Damage: Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis are two of the most frequent causes of pain in the hip in patients over the age of 60. Premature arthritis may be seen in younger people who have congenital hip dysplasia or Perthes disease.
- Injury: Direct physical trauma suffered in the hip can produce pain and post traumatic arthritis pain within a few years.
- Muscle Injury: Tearing or straining a tendon can occur from repeated usage
- Underlying conditions such as Osteoporosis, Spinal Stenosis, disc herniation in the lower lumbar area, trochanteric bursitis, etc.
- Infection, tumor, or fracture
What Symptoms does Hip Pain produce?
Common symptoms of hip pain include pain in one or both of the hips, typically located close to the source of the pain. Patients may have pain that increases when they move, or may have pain that flares in other areas. Some patients may have difficulty in maintaining a normal walking gait depending on their levels of pain.
An aching or sharp pain or the hip joint clicking or popping with movement may indicate a Labral tear (more common in athletes).
How is Hip Pain Diagnosed?
Since the hip is an internal joint with thick surrounding tissue, a direct physical examination of the patient may not be able to provide a diagnosis with reliable accuracy. Instead, many patients will receive an X-ray if the probable cause if physical, or an MRI if the probable cause is soft tissue (such as with muscle injury). In more complex cases blood cultures or a biopsy may be needed.
What Treatments are Available for Hip Pain?
For very minor injuries, pain relievers and anti-inflammatories may be able to mitigate a patient’s pain by reducing the symptomatic pains and the presence of swelling. These can be effective when the cause of hip pain is related directly to physical means, like the strain of a tendon or the tearing of a muscle. Patients with pain due to osteoarthritis can potentially obtain relief through prescription medications. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are very likely to receive prescription medication for their pain.
For minor pain due to swelling, resting the hip and icing the area can prove to be an effective means of treatment. Therapy and exercise may also reduce symptomatic pain, especially with therapy that implements low-impact techniques designed to restore mobility to the hip. In some cases of hip pain, a therapeutic exercise program in combination with Chiropractic treatment can help to lower the likelihood that surgery will be required to repair the hip.
Depending on what the underlying cause of pain, some patients can benefit greatly from the use of an interventional injection into the hip. Designed to provide significant relief for an extended duration of time, injections are used when symptomatic pain can be reduced from numbing a specific area.
Patients who have pain due to arthritic inflammation may receive a steroidal injection(cortisone or with hyaluronic acid) designed to directly combat the presence of swelling, which places excess pressure on the hip and causes significant amounts of pain. By reducing the swelling on the hip, mobility can be returned to the joint alongside a reduction in the levels of pain.
If hip pain is the result of one or more nervous tissue complications, a therapeutic injection into the afflicted nerve can reduce a patients pain by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Therapeutic injections are a relatively quick and safe procedure that can provide significant results that last weeks if not months.
Patients with symptoms that are not able to be alleviated through conservative methods may need surgical correction of their hip to obtain relief. Most commonly, a total hip replacement will be the solution for patient’s symptoms in these cases.