Hip Pain Causes and Treatments
The most common cause of disability in the United States, joint pain is caused by many different conditions, including arthritis, sports-related injuries and common overuse of the affected joint.
Joints are the connections between bones and not only do they provide support, they help mobility. So, when a joint is damaged – whether from a disease or injury – the result is some degree of pain, affecting a person’s daily routine.
Your hip is the joint where your thigh bone meets your pelvis bone. Hip pain results from damage to the hip joint, a ball-and-socket joint that connects the ball-shaped top of the leg bone (femur) to the hip socket.
According to one national survey, one-third of adults reported having joint pain within the previous 30 days. Hip pain is one of the most common types of joint pain. Joint pain is more common as adults get older.
Acute hip pain can be caused by a variety of injuries or conditions, the most common being inflamed tendons, often caused by exercising too much. This can be very painful, but can heal in just a few days.
As the most common cause of long-term hip pain, arthritis causes pain, stiff and tender joints and difficulty walking.
Although there are more than 200 different types of arthritis, all involve damage to cartilage. Cartilage acts like a cushion for the bones and it covers the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint. When the hip cartilage is damaged, bones rub together when an individual moves and this friction causes hip pain.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, often called “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down over time. Osteoarthritis affects millions of people around the world and symptoms can develop slowly and worsen over time.
Another major type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory type of arthritis that occurs when the body’s immune system does not work properly. Gout is another common type of arthritis and it occurs when there is an excess of uric acid in the tissues and blood.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both cause hip pain.
When the bursa (a liquid-filled sac next to a joint) over the hip joint becomes inflamed, trochanteric bursitis can cause hip pain. Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by any number of factors: hip injury, overuse of joints, posture problems, or other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Hip fractures can cause very sudden, severe hip pain, and require immediate medical attention. A hip fracture may require surgery to correct.
Snapping hip syndrome (most commonly found in dancers and athletes) is recognized by a snapping sound or feeling in the hip when the individual is walking or getting up out of a chair. The condition is usually painless, but it can cause pain. Snapping hip with pain is usually a sign of a cartilage tear or fragments of material in the hip.
Osteonecrosis occurs when blood does not reach the bones, temporarily or permanently, resulting in a loss of bone tissue. Joint injury, heavy use of steroid medications and cancer treatments may put an individual at greater risk for this condition.
Read more about arthritis by visiting the Arthritis Foundation.
Houston Hip Pain Locations
Read more about the treatment options available for hip pain in Houston at a Memorial Hermann Joint Center near you.
Hip and Joint Pain Prevention
Did you know there are simple things you can do now to prevent joint pain down the road?
Six Easy Steps to Keep Joints in Good Shape
The more you move, the less stiffness you will have. Watching TV? Change positions frequently. Working at your desk? Take breaks and walk around.
2. Protect your body
Wear protective gear – elbow and knee pads – when enjoying high-risk activities like skating. Consider wearing braces when playing tennis or golf if your joints are already sore.
3. Lose extra pounds
Even a few extra pounds can put strain on your hips, knees and back. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees.
4. Stick with “low impact” exercises
To protect your joints, focus on walking, bicycling and swimming. High-impact, pounding exercises increase your risk for joint injuries.
5. Keep muscles strong around your joints
Don’t forget to strengthen muscles around your joints to avoid stress on your joints.
6. Good posture
There is a good reason why you should stand and sit up straight. Good posture protects joints, all the way from your neck down to your knees.
Nonsurgical Hip Pain Treatment
The most common hip pain is from osteoarthritis of the hip. The goal of chronic hip pain treatment is to reduce joint pain and inflammation and to improve joint function.
Hip pain treatment options may include:
- Losing weight
- Exercise and physical therapy
- Mechanical aids such as shock-absorbing shoes, splints or braces, a firm mattress, canes, crutches and walkers
- Heat and ice
- Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, relaxation therapy, tai chi and yoga
- Dietary supplements
- Corticosteroid injections
Rheumatoid arthritis of the hip
Since there is no cure for RA, the goals of treatment are to relieve hip pain, reduce inflammation, slow down joint damage and improve functional ability. Treat hip pain from RA with:
- Medications such as anti-inflammatory medications and nonsteroidal pain relievers
- Devices that help with daily activities can also reduce stress on joints
- Stress reduction
Bursitis of the hip
Bursitis occurs when the bursa, or fluid-filled sac between bones in the joints, becomes irritated or inflamed. The pain may be sharp or a dull ache, and may worsen after lying on the hip or sitting for long periods.
Bursitis is treated with rest, ice, and medicines to ease pain and reduce swelling. Other treatments include ultrasound, physical therapy and steroid injections.
Iliotibial band tendinitis or inflammation causes pain on the outside of the hip.
Conventional treatment consists primarily of avoiding the movement that caused the injury and allowing the body to heal on its own. Treatment may also include ice after activity, shoe orthotics for foot alignment problems, stretching of the tendon, hip muscle strengthening, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injection.
A hip dislocation occurs when the ball of the thighbone (femur) moves out of place within the socket of the pelvic bone. This ball and socket forms the hip joint.
To treat dislocation, the doctor will try to put the ball of the femur back into the hip socket in closed reduction. You may be given medications to relax. If closed reduction is doesn't work, you may need surgery.
A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone just below the hip joint.
Treatment focuses on getting you back on your feet again while the broken bone heals. An x-ray or MRI will show the doctor the extent of the injury. Treatments include ice, supportive devices and resting the joint.
A hip pointer is a bruise to the upper part of your hip. This part of the hip bone is called the iliac crest. A pointer can involve injury to bone and soft tissue. This injury can be very painful.
Hip pointers are treated with rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ice. For severe pain, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid directly into your hip. Hip pointers may take several weeks to heal.
A hip labral tear is an injury to the cartilage inside the hip joint. When the cartilage tears, it is called a hip labral tear.
Treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), modified activity and physical therapy to strengthen muscles. Generally this treatment is tried for several weeks. If there is no improvement surgery may be considered.
If nonsurgical treatment methods have failed, you may be a candidate for hip replacement surgery.
Learn more about hip replacement surgery »
Where to Get Treatment
Houston hip pain treatment is available at a Memorial Hermann Joint Center near you. See locations.