What’s Causing Your Hip Pain and What are the Treatment Options?
Hip pain is a common problem, affecting thousands of people across the UK. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from mild aching and discomfort to severe, sharp pain. Some people may only notice it occasionally, whilst for others, it may be an everyday occurrence.
If you’re suffering from hip pain and want to find out more about what is causing it and what to expect when you seek medical diagnosis and treatment, here is some useful information.
What are the first signs of hip problems?
- Hip or groin pain usually in the area between the hip and the knee
- Swelling and tenderness of the hip area
- Limping whilst walking
- Stiffness when attempting to bend down
Hip Pain: Possible Causes
There are a wide variety of causes for hip pain, from injury or trauma, to gradual wear-and-tear. Here are a few of the more common factors which cause discomfort and pain in the hip.
- Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are common causes of discomfort and aching in the hip. The condition can cause the area to become swollen and inflamed, and the pain may get worse as the arthritis progresses through the joint. Tell-tale signs of arthritis in the hip are stiffness and limited range of motion.
- Muscle strain. Certain activities, particularly high impact ones, can put a lot of strain on the supporting muscles and tendons surrounding the hip. If you injure or overuse the muscle, it is likely to cause pain and prevent you from moving as easily as normal. This is relatively easy to identify, as it is normally preceded by an activity that caused the pain in the first place and pain is relatively swift to follow.
- Hip fracture. Fracturing the bones in the hip is very common, particularly among elderly people, whose bones are more brittle. Although it’s possible to experience a fracture without any specific injury or impact, most fractures are caused by a fall. Hip fractures usually result in sudden and severe pain and they require immediate medical attention.
- Bursitis is swelling of the bursae – small sacs around the muscles surrounding the hip joint. The inflammation of the bursae can cause discomfort and is likely to be as a result of repetitive activities, particularly those which involve bending or over-stretching.
- Of all the causes, cancer is one of the most unlikely. However, bone cancer can manifest itself as pain in the hip joint.
- Tendonitis is a condition where the tendons connecting your hip bone to your muscles become swollen or irritated, resulting in pain. Again, this is often caused by repetitive actions involving overuse of the hip.
When Should You See a Doctor?
As with any form of pain that you experience, it’s important to make a judgement call as to how much it affects your everyday life. If the pain is mild and occasional, you may be able to manage the pain effectively yourself, without the need for any medical intervention.
However, if you find that the pain is having a negative impact on your life, it’s worth booking an appointment with your GP.
If in doubt, you should seek immediate medical help if you experience the following:
- Sudden swelling or deformity
- Intense pain
- Inability to bear weight on your leg
- Signs of infection such as a high temperature, chills, a fever or redness
- Inability to move your leg or hip
- A fall or other injury brought on sudden hip pain
Versus Arthritis recommends that you should certainly book an appointment with your doctor if the pain is moderate to severe and lasts for more than 2 weeks.
How Will Your Pain be Diagnosed?
Initially, your doctor will ask you a series of questions, designed to ascertain the nature of your hip pain. You’re likely to be asked when your symptoms first appeared, when the pain is at its worst, what triggers it, whether you’re experiencing pain at night, and whether it’s having a severe effect on your daily life.
They will then examine the affected area, noting how well you can move your hip and how swollen the region is. In many cases, this is enough to make a diagnosis; however, in certain instances, you may need to have further diagnostic treatment.
This may include:
- CT Scan
- MRI Scan (useful for examining the muscles and tendons around the hip joint)
- Blood Test (effective for identifying rheumatoid arthritis)
Treatment for Hip Pain
There are a wide variety of treatments available for hip pain; and what you’ll be recommended depends very much on your condition and the severity of your discomfort.
For many people, it’s possible to manage the pain at home, using over-the-counter medication, gentle exercise and heat applied to the area. If you’re not able to control the symptoms in this manner, you may be recommended stronger anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid injections to address the problem.
If your doctor feels that strengthening the muscles and tendons may help, you may be referred to a physiotherapist, where you’ll be recommended some gentle exercises to help improve mobility and reduce pain.
It’s possible that you may require hip replacement surgery, particularly if your pain is very severe, or if you have a degenerative condition such as arthritis. This type of surgery has very high success rates within the UK, and the vast majority of patients report improvement in terms of both pain reduction and mobility after the procedure.
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