When you’re in pain, everything becomes more difficult. When you have hip pain, there are daily tasks you just can’t do. What is normal? What can you do? And when should you consider more drastic measures?
There is a multitude of reasons you could be experiencing hip pain. Causes of hip pain can range from normal to serious. Things, like sitting in an awkward position or lying on your side for too long, can give you pain and stiffness in your hip. Other possible reasons could be an injury from a fall, like a bruise, sprain or strain, or even a fracture. Some of the most serious causes of hip pain are osteoarthritis or other diseases that break down the joint.
There are several types of common hip injuries.
- Sprains and Strains: these happen when the muscle or ligament that supports the hip joint is stretched too far or torn. If severe, you may not even be able to move your leg.
- Tendonitis: if you’ve damaged the tendon you may notice clicking along with pain when moving your hip.
- Bursitis: this happens when the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that cushion your tendons, ligaments, and muscles, become swollen. Besides the hip joint, this could also affect the shoulder, knee or elbow. It can be a short, one-time event or a long chronic battle. Symptoms include joint pain and tenderness and warmth. The pain will start sharp, in the first few days, and change to dull and achy as time passes. If regular treatments don’t help, you may need surgery to remove the excess liquid in the bursae.
- Labral Tears: when the cartilage ring around the hip socket is damaged it can cause a clicking or pain in the hip or groin and stiffness in the joint. Because labra not only cushion the joint but also help keep it in the socket you may experience a limited range of motion or stiffness.
These injuries are usually caused by repetitive activities or overuse. Activities, such as running, put a lot of stress on your joints. If you are experiencing hip pain after an activity, try icing the joint, taking a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory, and resting. If your pain doesn’t improve or worsens, see a doctor.
There are a few diseases that can cause the hip joint to break down or be inflamed.
- Perthes disease is a condition that affects children from 3 to 11 and is caused by a low blood supply to the bone cells which causes some of the bone cells to die and weakens the bones.
- Gout is another disease that can affect the hips, although it is more common in feet and knees. Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream and it gets deposited in the joints.
- Lyme disease, an infectious disease you get from ticks, can affect the hips as well. If you have a skin rash, joint swelling, and other flu-like symptoms see a doctor right away.
If you suspect any of these diseases, talk to your doctor.
The word arthritis means “joint inflammation.” There are many different types, but they all cause pain and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. Other names for osteoarthritis are degenerative arthritis or age-related arthritis. This means it develops and worsens as you age. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints begins to break down. Cartilage is the cushion of the joint. When it is gone, the joint is just rubbing bone on bone, which can be very painful.
Although cartilage can sometimes be repaired, once it is gone, it’s gone. Our bodies cannot re-grow cartilage. Two main types of osteoarthritis are primary and secondary. Primary is general across the whole body while secondary is isolated to one area and caused by another disease or injury. Osteoarthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, especially when you wake up in the morning or after sitting for long periods. Other symptoms include:
- A crunching sound or feeling when you move
- Swelling or tenderness
- Inability to move the joint
The goal of treating osteoarthritis is simply improving the function of the joint and to control the pain. These goals may be met by:
- Resting the joint
- Losing excess weight
- Using a cane
- Taking medication to relieve pain
If these treatments aren’t working and you cannot do regular daily tasks, you may want to talk to your doctor about hip replacement surgery.
Don’t let hip pain keep you from doing daily tasks or participating in the activities you love. The first step is figuring out the problem and then giving yourself the treatment you need and the time to heal.