Hip Pain: Causes, Treatments, and When to Seek Help

Hip pain can occur because of arthritis, injuries or problems with your hip socket. People of all ages can experience hip pain, but older people are more likely to develop it due to arthritis and bone fractures. Dancers, gymnasts and other athletes who move their hips in all directions are more likely to injure their hips, especially from overuse.

Depending on the cause, rest, anti-inflammatory medication and ice may help you feel better. More severe injuries may need surgical repair. Doctors often use minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair torn tendons or the acetabular labrum. If the damage is severe, your doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery.

Hip Pain

What causes hip pain?

Many conditions and injuries throughout your life can cause hip pain. Some common hip pain causes can include:

Arthritis: Several types of arthritis affect the hips, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Hip arthritis is common. It causes joint pain and swelling. Arthritis can affect people of all ages, but older people are more likely to have the condition.

Injuries: Overuse or trauma can damage your muscles, bones, tendons (tough fibers that attach muscles to bones) and ligaments (tissues that connect bones to other bones). Athletes who perform repetitive motions are particularly prone to overuse injuries. Older people are more likely to break a hip because bones become more fragile as we age. Some of the kinds of hip injuries you can experience could include:

  • Dislocated hip.
  • Labral tears (damage to the cartilage in the hip socket).
  • Hip strains.
  • Fractures.
  • Snapping hip syndrome.

Bursitis: Bursae provide cushioning for our joints. These are sacs, filled with fluid that are located on inside of the hip. These bursa sacs can become irritated and swollen from injury, overuse or arthritis. When this happens, a painful condition called bursitis can develop.

Structural abnormalities: Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) can affect babies. When the hip socket is too shallow, the ball part of the ball-and-socket hip joint doesn’t stay in the socket. DDH runs in families. It can result from a breech delivery (when the baby’s feet come out first). Without treatment, DDH can cause pain later in life.

Childhood illness: Perthes disease (also known as Legg Calvé Perthes disease) is a rare hip condition that affects children between ages 6 and 10. Perthes disease causes temporary blood loss to the ball at the end of the femur (thighbone). As a result, the bony ball breaks down and changes shape. Over time, it no longer fits snugly in the socket, causing hip joint pain.

How is hip pain treated?

Treatment for hip pain typically depends on how much pain you’re in and what is causing your discomfort. Mild injuries to muscles, tendons or bursa sacs often improve with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. You can often follow the RICE method—rest, ice, compression and elevation. This form of treatment can be done at home and it can sometimes relieve some of your hip pain. If necessary, doctors can usually repair tendons and labrum tears with minimally invasive surgery. More serious hip conditions may require a total hip replacement.

Arthritis treatment may include medication and physical therapy. Doctors can usually treat DDH and Perthes disease with special braces, casts and slings that keep the joint in place while the hip heals. Some children may need surgical repair.

No matter what caused the pain, physical therapy exercises can strengthen your hip muscles and relieve discomfort.

Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Dr. Rohit Bhaskar, Physio is Founder of Bhaskar Health and Physiotherapy and is also a consulting physiotherapist. He completed his Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. His clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab. Bhaskar Health is dedicated to readers, doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Bhaskar Health audience is the reason I feel so passionate about this project, so thanks for reading and sharing Bhaskar Health.

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