Hip Pain

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Senior woman suffering from hip pain at home,

Hip pain is usually caused by damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues surrounding the hip joint. In some cases the pain can actually be caused by problems originating in other areas such as the lower back.

The hip joint is the largest ball and socket joint in the body and its design supports fluid movement of its bones over an extended period, despite years of wear and tear. Like many joints in the body, the hip joint is equipped with a cartilage cushioning between the hip bone and its socket.

However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t susceptible to injury. The muscles and tendons of the joint can suffer damage due to tearing or overstretching. The cartilage deteriorates over time. And the bones of the joint can be fractured in a fall or collision.

In what follows below, we will list some of the more common causes of hip pain. We will also briefly describe the treatments (if any) that may be indicated for each cause of pain.

Hip Arthritis

Like any joint in the body, the hip is vulnerable to attack by arthritis. The two most common forms of arthritis that occur in the joint are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.Both these forms of arthritis lead to inflammation, pain and stiffness of the hip joint. There is also progressive breakdown of the cartilage tissue that “lubricates” the hip joint by cushioning the bones of the joint and helping it to move smoothly.

Over time, the pain of hip arthritis gets worse. As with other forms of the disease, there is no underlying cure for hip arthritis. Instead, doctors focus on slowing its rate of progression and reducing the patient’s pain and discomfort.

Hip Osteoarthritis

There are various forms of surgery to alter the shape of the bones in the joint and reduce their points of contact with each other, thus reducing the pain. In the case of long term sufferers for whom the disease has reached an advanced stage, the osteoarthritic hip can be replaced by an artificial one through hip replacement surgery.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an autoimmune form of arthritis caused by the body’s immune system attacking the lining of the hip joint and eventually destroying it.

Doctors can prescribe various medications to suppress the immune system and slow the rate of progress of rheumatoid arthritis. If you are diagnosed with this cause of hip pain, you should talk to your doctor about the various remedies that are now available for rheumatoid arthritis.

Hip Fractures

This can be another cause of intense hip pain. It can become an increasingly significant factor as the patient ages and his/her bones become more brittle. This is a condition known as osteoporosis.

This means that the hip bones are more likely to be cracked or fractured due to falls or collisions. Along with hip and groin pain, the patient may have difficulty walking or be unable to walk at all. There may also be contusions and swelling in the hip area.

The typical treatment for a hip fracture due to osteoporosis is surgery.

Hip Bursitis

This is a condition caused by inflammation of the bursae of the hip. These are fluid filled sacs situated between the bones, muscles and tendons of each joint. They play the critical role of reducing the friction that would otherwise result from these tissues rubbing against each other.

If the hip bursae become inflamed (usually though overuse), hip pain will usually result. The typical treatment for hip bursitis is resting and allowing the bursae to recover naturally.

Hip Tendonitis

Like other joints, the hip muscles are connected to the adjacent bones by way of tendons. Tendonitis is a condition of inflammation of the tendons due to repetitive stress or overuse and can be a cause of hip pain.

As with hip bursitis, hip tendonitis is usually treatable by allowing the hip muscles to rest so that the adjacent tendons will recover naturally.

Hip Sprains or Strains

This injury results from overuse of the ligaments, muscles and tendons of the hip joint. The overuse can cause them to become overstretched or torn, causing hip pain as well as bruising and possibly swelling.

Except in the case of the most severe strains or sprains (involving a completely severed muscle or tendon) these injuries are usually treated at home. The typical approach involves resting, icing, compressing and elevating the hip joint. Compression shorts can provide valuable additional support to the joint during the recovery period. This support can both reduce pain and speed  recovery.

Hip Labral Tear

This is an injury involving damage to the ring of cartilage that lines the outer rim of the hip joint socket. This cartilage is called the labrum and it plays an important role in the correct functioning of the hip joint.

The labrum acts like a gasket and holds the ball of the hip joint securely inside the socket. However, in athletes and other physically active individuals, the labrum is at risk of tearing as a result of continual twisting hip movements.

In addition to hip pain, a labrum tear can cause a catching  or clicking sensation in the hip joint as you try to move it.

If this injury is not treated properly, it can cause permanent damage to the hip joint. As a result, anyone who thinks they may have suffered a labrum tear should seek medical advice (preferably from a specialist in sports medicine) at once.

Cancer

Hip pain can also be the result of tumours in or near the joint. This is obviously a serious medical condition and medical help from a qualified health care professional should be sought with extreme urgency.

Hip Osteonecrosis

This condition (also called avascular necrosis) is a result of decreased blood flow to the hip bone, which then causes the death of bone tissue.

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