Hip Pain

Health conditions that are common causes of hip pain include:

  • Osteoarthritis – the wear-and-tear form of arthritis, causing pain and reduced range of movement.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune condition where the body's defenses mistakenly attack the joints – causing pain, stiffness and a loss of range of movement.

  • Hip fractures – broken bones in the hip can easily occur after a fall in older people. Bones can become weaker with age and with conditions like osteoporosis.

  • Bursitis – sacs of fluid in the joint called bursas can become inflamed or irritated.

  • Tendonitis - Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of the thick bands of tissue that attach the bones to the muscles.

  • Muscle strain, tendon strain – these injuries can be from overuse or injuries, such as sports injuries

  • Bone cancers - Tumours may start in a hip bone or spread there from somewhere else in the body.

  • Osteonecrosis – This condition means blood flow is lost to the hip bone causing loss of bone tissue. This may develop after a hip fracture, hip dislocation, or long-term steroid medication use.

Symptoms of hip pain

Hip pain may be felt in and around the:

  • Hip joints

  • Thighs

  • Groin area

  • Buttocks

Sometimes pain that seems to be affecting the hip can actually be due to a problem elsewhere. In this situation pain in the hip is called referred pain.

Sometimes hip pain is constant, in other cases activities may make it worse.

Hip pain can mean you are less able to move the hip joint as much as before – called a reduced range of movement – and this may result in walking with a limp.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis hip pain may include prescription anti-inflammatory medications and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

If sports activities make the hip pain worse, it may help to swap to low-impact exercises, like swimming.

A doctor may recommend a referral to a physiotherapist for an exercise programme to help with range of movement.

If osteoarthritis is causing severe hip pain and other approaches are not helping, a hip replacement operation or hip surgery may be recommended.

If a broken bone in the hip is causing the pain, this will be confirmed with an X-ray so appropriate treatment can be provided.

Seek medical attention if hip pain doesn’t ease, including at night or when resting, or if there is swelling, redness or warmth around the joints.

Seek urgent medical help if:

  • The pain began after a fall or injury

  • Pain began suddenly

  • The joint is bleeding or looks deformed

  • There was a popping noise before the pain began

  • Pain is severe

  • Weight cannot be put on the joints

Hip pain treatment

  • Physical Therapy. A physical therapist can address pain, walking, mobility, bracing and equipment needs that help you stay independent. Practicing low-impact exercises may help maintain your cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and range of motion for as long as possible.

    A physical therapist can also help you adjust to a brace, walker or wheelchair and may suggest devices such as ramps that make it easier for you to get around.

    Regular exercise can also help improve your sense of well-being. Appropriate stretching can help prevent pain and help your muscles function at their best.

  • Occupational Therapy. An occupational therapist can help you find ways to remain independent. Adaptive equipment can help you perform daily activities such as dressing, grooming, eating and bathing.

    An occupational therapist can also help you modify your home to allow accessibility if you have trouble walking safely.

    Occupational therapists also have a good understanding of how assistive technology and computers can be used, even if your hands are weak.

An occupational therapist can also help you modify your home to allow accessibility if you have trouble walking safely.

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