The hip is the most powerful joint in the human body. Connecting the thigh and the pelvis together, it is constructed to have incredible durability while maintaining superior range of motion. This ball-and-socket joint is composed of a thick layer of cartilage that helps prevent unnecessary friction.
In spite of its superior strength and ability to withstand massive stress, the hip joint can become damaged for a variety of reasons. Such injuries typically manifest in the form of pain. Basically, hip joint pain is defined as any kind of pain that is localized in the hip joint.
Hip Pain Causes
There are multiple causes of hip joint pain. Any damage or injury in the hip area can manifest itself as pain. It can be caused by damage to the cartilage. The cartilage itself can be worn out or torn due to overuse or unnatural movement.
The muscles and tendons that support and attach to the hip can also get worn out. Examples of muscle/tendon injuries include tears, hyperextensions, or bruises. Injuries to the hip bone such as fractures can also manifest as pain and immobilization.
Pain coming from injuries located in other parts of the body, defined as referred pain, can radiate towards the hip. Examples of causes of referred pain to the hip joint include hernias and back injuries.
There are also uncommon and advanced causes of hip pain. You should look into these possible causes if pain becomes chronic and/or it does not get resolved by common relieving techniques.
Neurologic causes of hip pain include sacroiliitis and sciatica that may cause persistent pain.
Structural abnormalities in the hip may also be the underlying cause. It can also be a sign of degenerative processes such as osteoporosis and synovitis. It can even be a sign of malignant processes such as bone cancer and leukemia.
Hip Pain Symptoms
The symptoms of hip joint pain are relatively straightforward. The characteristics of the pain tell a lot about the causative process behind the pain you are experiencing.
Regardless of the cause, hip pain is characterized by pain in the following areas: inside and outside the hip joint, thigh, groin, and buttocks.
It can even extend to distant areas such as the lower thigh and lower back. Depending on the extent of the injury, multiple areas of the hip may be involved.
Aside from pain, the patient may also experience lack or limitation of movement, commonly manifested as reduced range of motion or limping. Some pain may or may not be worsened by movement, and may or may not be relieved by rest.
Treatment of hip joint pain depends on what causes it. There are many ways to provide temporary relief and improve motion, but the best way to resolve the problem is to address the root of the problem.
Here are some common treatment methods used for resolving hip joint pain, regardless of cause.
Ice – This is one of the most common and most effective pain relievers out there. It reduces inflammation and works on the nerves, which helps in reducing pain, soreness, and loss of movement.
Pain medications – Most pain medications can be purchased over the counter. They usually do the trick if the cause of pain is nothing significant. Examples of OTC drugs used for managing hip pain include NSAIDs and paracetamol.
Anti-inflammatory drugs – Reducing inflammation is one way to reduce pain. This is the case, especially if the cause is rheumatoid arthritis or excessive inflammation. Corticosteroids and anti-rheumatic drugs may be prescribed for such cases.
Rest – Rest is commonly what you need to get rid of the pain. Your hip joint and its associated parts need enough rest for repairs. It is also a preventive measure against excessive wear and tear.
Exercise is one great way to both treat and prevents hip joint pain. Not only is this effective for eliminating pain, but it also improves both the range of motion and strength of the joint and its associated structures.
It is also recommended to build muscle and lose weight, 2 essentials for reducing strain to your joints. It is best to go for low-impact exercises such as stretching, swimming, and light resistance training.
You can go for more high-impact programs once the pain subsides and exercise tolerance increases. Of course, proper care must still be taken to avoid further injury. Also, never take up an exercise program unless indicated by a physician.
Proper diagnosis is very important to properly manage hip joint pain. A quick consultation with your doctor can help you find solutions to your problem. It all starts with a comprehensive history taking to help identify potential sources of injury and how it might have developed.
You might also need to take a physical exam and some diagnostic imaging modalities (ex.: X-rays) to confirm or rule out injuries. Once the cause is identified, a detailed treatment plan can be constructed to resolve the issue.
Reference: 1. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/hip-pain-causes-and-treatment 2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/hip-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050684