What Do I Need to Know about Hip Pain?

Many people suffer from hip pain. This condition can be due to many reasons. Understanding possible causes, symptoms and treatment can help people to handle this condition in a more proactive manner.

Hip joints have cartilages that help prevent friction between bones. A hip joint is kept in place by muscles, tendons, ligaments and body tissue. Sacs filled with fluids (bursae) lubricate the joint and allow tendons and muscles to move gently. When these cartilages become deteriorated due to aging and/or wear, strain can be put on nearby muscles and tendons which then exceed their normal working conditions and hip pain can emerge. Several causes of hip pain come from inflamed hip joints.

Walking, going upstairs and downstairs or even sleeping can become difficult tasks when having hip pain. Patients with hip pain often find that describing the exact location and the type of pain are not so easy. It is important to identify real causes of hip pain since they can indicate specific health conditions.

  • What are possible causes of hip pain?

Injuries resulting in traumas, such as hip bone fractures, dislocations, tendinitis and bursitis can be sore sources. Generally, these conditions result in inflammations due to fluid or blood accumulation in hip joints bringing about hip pain. A serious joint problem usually causes severe hip pain!

Hip pain can also be caused by other conditions such as arthritis, tumors, bone cancer, leukemia and an illness called avascular necrosis (also known as osteonecrosis). Osteoporosis can also give rise to hip pain.

Arthritis is a cause of hip hurting. Inflammation of hip joints and deterioration of cartilages can cause the pain to increase from mild to severe and eventually, motion can be affected due to reduction of hip flexibility.  Hurting from arthritis gets worse when joint exercise is insufficient, but eventually, the pain will remain even if exercise is performed daily.

Aging sometimes weakens bone´s structures which can lead to hip fractures. Even so, most hip fractures experienced by elderly people are mainly due to sudden falls and, occasionally, fractures may occur due to osteoporosis. When the hip is fractured, the pain increases with every move.

Tendinitis is also a cause of hip pain. It can be seen as inflammation of tendons, which have been submitted to excess work or overuse. It is sometimes experienced by sports men and women. Tendons, just as muscles, protect the hip joints which support the weight of the body, when tendons are swollen hips cannot handle weight properly. Pain is the usual indicator.

Bursitis is another form of inflammation that occurs for tendon/muscle/ligament overuse due to repetitive activities. Bursae present in hip muscles and tendons could be swollen causing pain.

A condition known as avascular necrosis can also cause hip pain. It is characterized by a reduction or absence of blood flowing to the hip bone tissue, resulting in its death. Other symptoms like hurting of the knee are known. This condition can also be caused by long term use of steroids.

Also, bone cancer (osteosarcoma) or propagation of other types of cancer to hip bones can cause continuous and acute hip pain.

  • What are typical symptoms of hip pain?

Discomfort or aching may be felt in the hip area or in buttocks, groin and thighs. Sometimes the pain may be due to radiation from other body parts. The pain can get worse with movement, sometimes the discomfort can lead to developing a limp.

Other causes of hip pain are infection in a joint, the presence of a hernia or a swollen sciatic nerve. Children with hip pain must be taken to a doctor immediately, especially if they have a fever. A blood test (testing specifically for a white blood cell count) may be recommended to verify the presence of an infection.

  • When do you need to consult a doctor?

When you have a mild or minor hip pain, treatment at home may be enough. A fall may cause a contusion or bruising and tissue inflammation. The area may be hurting only for a brief time. If the person can stand up and walk, even with a limp, the person can usually be treated at home. If so, try to rest, you can try taking pain relieving medication available on the market such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen among others. You can also apply cold or heat towels in painful areas or take a warm bath. If hurting or inflammation continues, you may need to see a doctor.

Medical assistance should be sought when acute hip pain appears suddenly; when a fall has recently occurred giving rise to an injury and hip pain or when your leg or hip cannot be moved or are unable to sustain weight. Also, a deformed joint or signs of infections, such as fever may be a sign to look for medical help.

  • What type of treatment is usually recommended?

Hip pain treatment will vary depending upon the reasons why it originally initiated. Until the underlying cause is identified and primarily treated, relaxants and pain relievers may be administered. Although non-prescribed pain relievers can be purchased directly over-the-counter, it is important to be aware that these medications may have side effects if medical conditions are present so, it is advisable to verify your case.

As previously mentioned, hip pain treatments can vary depending upon underlying causes. Age, general health conditions, current job or sport activities are considered. If hurting is caused by tendon or muscle inflammation or if tendinitis or osteoarthritis is shown, usually non-prescribed pain relievers can be administered.

Some cases of arthritis, like rheumatoid, need prescriptions for anti-inflammatory formulations among other medications.

Physical and occupational therapy, low impact hip joint exercising such as swimming, not smoking and having natural and healthy food will all help improve the patient´s quality of life.

When pain is very severe or a hip fracture has occurred, surgery to attend the fracture or surgical replacements may be taken into account.

Women who have a prognosis of developing osteoporosis are advised to take calcium and vitamin D at age 65 or older to help strengthen bones and with stability. Also, these medications are recommended for potentially risky younger women to avoid weakening of bones.

Hip pain treatment will depend on the underlying illness, so be aware of your body needs and consult the doctor immediately if needed!

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