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Overview of Hip Pain: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Hip Pain (HP) is a common ailment that affects people of all ages. Whether one is an athlete, a senior citizen, or someone in between, such kind of pain can cause a great deal of discomfort and limit the ability to perform daily activities. In this article, you will explore the symptoms, causes, and the treatments available to alleviate your Hip Pain.

Hip

Contents

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Signs of Hip Pain

HP can be debilitating and interfere with your daily life. It’s crucial to identify its signs so that you can seek treatment and prevent further damage. Here are some common signs to look out for.

  • Pain in the hip joint or groyne area

  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs

  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion

  • Swelling and tenderness

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the hip joint

  • Pain that radiates to the thigh, buttock, or knee

  • Difficulty sleeping on the affected side

Causes of Hip Pain 

Common causes of Hip Pain include the following.

  • Arthritis: There are different types of arthritis that can affect the hip joint, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type and usually occurs due to wear and tear of the joint over time.

  • Bursitis: It is the inflammation of a bursa, which is a small fluid-filled sac that cushions and lubricates joints. In the hip joint, bursitis can occur in the trochanteric bursa, located on the outside of the hip, or in the iliopsoas bursa, which is located on the inside of the hip. Bursitis is often caused by repetitive motions or injury.

  • Hip fracture: A hip fracture is a break in the bone of the hip joint. One gets hip fracture by a fall, injury or osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures.

  • Tendinitis: It is the inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that attaches muscle to bone. In the hip joint, tendinitis can occur in the gluteus medius, a muscle that supports the hip, or the iliopsoas, which is a muscle that helps flex the hip.

  • Muscle strain: A muscle strain is a stretch or tear in a muscle or tendon. In the hip joint, muscle strains can occur in the hip flexors, glutes, or adductors. This type of injury is often caused by overuse or sudden movements. 

  • Hip labral tear: This can cause pain, stiffness, and a feeling of instability in the hip joint. Labral tear is usually caused by injury or degeneration over time.

  • Avascular necrosis: It is a condition in which the bone tissue in the hip joint dies due to a lack of blood supply. There are several factors that can cause this condition, which are injury, long-term use of steroids, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medical conditions. Avascular necrosis can cause HP, stiffness, and limited mobility.

  • Snapping hip syndrome: It is a condition where the hip joint produces a loud popping or snapping sound during movement. Tight muscles or tendons, a hip labral tear, or structural abnormalities in the hip joint are the main causes of this syndrome. While snapping hip syndrome is not usually painful, it can cause discomfort or limit mobility in some cases.

Less common causes of Hip Pain

  • Osteoporosis

  • Cancer

  • Infection

  • Nerve damage

  • Hernia

  • Prostate problems

  • Gynaecological and back issues

  • Hip dysplasia

  • Paget's disease

Risk factors associated with Hip Pain

Hip Pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, arthritis, and hip fractures. Some of the risk factors that can increase your likelihood of experiencing HP include age, gender, obesity, poor posture, repetitive stress injuries, sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and previous hip injuries.

How is Hip Pain diagnosed?

There are several methods for diagnosing HP.

  • Physical examination: During this process, your doctor will ask you to move your leg and hip to see which movement causes pain.

  • Imaging tests: This includes X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans, all of which visualise the inside of your body to identify any damage or injury.

  • Blood tests: These can help identify if there are any underlying health conditions causing HP.

  • Aspiration: In some cases, the doctor may use a needle to draw fluid from the affected joint to test for infections or other conditions.

  • Nerve conduction studies: These are used to determine whether the pain is caused by a nerve condition.

  • Bone scan: This test uses radioactive material to identify bone abnormalities or fractures.

  • Ultrasound: This imaging test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body, including the hip joint.

  • Arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat HP by inserting a small camera into the joint.

  • Labral tear test: This test is used to diagnose tears in the labrum, the cartilage in the hip joint.

  • Hip injection test: This involves injecting medication into the hip joint to determine if it relieves pain.

Treatment options for Hip Pain

Here are some options for treating Hip Pain you can count on.

1. Medication options

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Medication like ibuprofen is easily accessible and can help reduce pain and inflammation. Such OTCs are recommended for moderate pain.

  • Prescription medications (e.g. opioids): These medications are stronger than over-the-counter pain relievers and are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. They can be addictive, so they should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

  • Corticosteroid injections: This type of injection contains anti-inflammatory medication that reduces swelling as well as pain in the hip joint. They are typically recommended for more severe pain or inflammation that is not responsive to other treatments.

2. Physical therapy

  • Strengthening exercises: These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles that surround the hip joint to help support and stabilise it. This can provide some relief from pain and improve overall function.

  • Stretching exercises: These exercises improve flexibility in the hip joint and can also reduce pain.

  • Low-impact aerobic exercise: This type of exercise, such as swimming or biking, can improve overall fitness and cardiovascular health without putting too much stress on the hip joint.

3. Surgical options

  • Arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves a small camera and tools, which are inserted into the hip joint to repair or remove damaged tissue. It is typically recommended for HP caused by conditions like hip impingement or labral tears.

  • Osteotomy: In this surgical procedure, the hip bone is cut and repositioned to relieve pressure on the joint. It is typically recommended for younger patients with early-stage arthritis.

  • Joint replacement surgery: This is a major surgery in which an artificial joint is placed on the site of damaged hip joint. It is typically recommended for more advanced cases of arthritis or joint damage that cannot be treated with other methods.

It's important to note that the appropriate treatment option for HP depends on the underlying cause, the severity of the pain, and the individual's overall health and medical history. It's best to consult with a healthcare provider or specialist to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. In some cases, a combination of treatment methods may be recommended for optimal pain relief and functional improvement.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a rundown of some common queries and their answers related to Hip Pain.

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What is the fastest way to relieve Hip Pain?

Here are some tips to relieve HP quickly.

  • Apply ice to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

  • Stretch and do low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga, or walking.

  • Use heat therapy such as a warm towel or heating pad to relax muscles.

  • Consider physical therapy to strengthen and stretch hip muscles.

If pain persists, consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options.

How do I know if it's Hip Pain or sciatica?

Hip Pain tends to be localised to the hip joint, whereas sciatica typically radiates down the leg. Also, HP may feel more like a dull ache or stiffness, while sciatica can cause sharp, shooting pain. Other symptoms that may be present with sciatica include numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg.

What is the best sleeping position for Hip Pain?

The best sleeping position for HP is on your side with a pillow between your knees. This position helps keep your hips in alignment, reducing pressure on the affected hip. Also, using a supportive mattress and pillow can help relieve HP while you sleep. With these adjustments, you can sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.

Is walking good for Hip Pain?

Walking is a low-impact exercise that can strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint, leading to improved joint stability and reduced pain. However, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase your walking distance and intensity to avoid exacerbating your pain. It's crucial to wear supportive shoes and practise good posture while walking to further alleviate any discomfort.

When is Hip Pain serious?

Hip Pain is a common symptom experienced by people of all ages. While some cases of HP can be minor and self-resolve over time, certain instances can indicate a serious underlying condition. If your HP is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, swelling, or difficulty in movement, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. 

References

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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