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When Do I Need to See a Doctor About Hip Pain

Hip pain is quite common, and it can make it difficult to go about your daily activities. Due to the critical role your hips play in keeping you mobile, hip pain can make a variety of daily activities painful, if not impossible. For example, simply getting out of bed, going for a walk, or climbing stairs may be painful. In some severe cases, you may be unable to move or bear weight on the affected hip or leg.

Hip pain can occur within or around the hip joint. An examination will help you determine the source of the pain, as hip pain can originate in locations other than the hip, such as the spine, pelvis, or leg. Once the source of the pain is identified and appropriate treatment is administered, you can successfully manage your hip pain.

In this article, we will take a brief look at some of the most common causes of hip pain, how to prevent and treat mild hip pain, as well as the symptoms that indicate the need for medical attention.

What are the possible causes of hip pain?

The hip joint is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body, and while it is relatively durable, it is also susceptible to a variety of disorders that can cause pain.

As you get older, you are more likely to develop hip pain. That's because joints might not be working as well as they used to, and there's a chance you are developing minor arthritis.

However, some hip pain can be a symptom of more severe conditions which necessitate a visit to your doctor.

Inflamed tendons

Tendonitis, or inflamed tendons, is the most common cause of acute hip pain. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon swells (inflames) following a tendon injury. It can cause joint pain, stiffness, and alter the movement of a tendon. This is frequently caused by exercising too much. This condition can be excruciatingly painful, but it usually resolves itself within a few days.

Bursitis

Bursae are tiny, jelly-like sacs which cushion the body's joints. When it comes to the hip, they act as cushions between the hip bone and soft tissues. Hip bursitis happens when a bursa in the hip becomes inflamed. Bursitis can cause hip pain that spreads to the outer thigh. It may worsen during activity or appear while you are resting or sleeping. Joint injections and physical therapy can help relieve bursitis pain. Of course, hip pain can be caused by various other issues, so the first step is to speak with a specialist. Once what is causing your pain is known, a treatment plan can be devised to get you healthy again.

Strain on the muscles

The hip may be strained if one of the muscles supporting the hip joint is stretched beyond its limit, whether due to muscle tightness, acute injury, or overuse. Pain, tenderness, swelling, muscle weakness, limited range of motion, and increased pain when moving the hip can all be symptoms of muscle strain.

Inflammatory arthritis

In inflammatory arthritis, the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue, and can affect multiple parts of the body at the same time. For example, pain and stiffness can be caused by inflammation of the tissues lining the hip joint. Likewise, dull, aching pain in the groin, outer thigh, knee, or buttocks can be caused by inflammatory arthritis.

Some people have more pain in the morning or after a period of rest, whereas others have more pain after vigorous activity. Because of the pain, some people may find it difficult to walk. Although physiotherapy can effectively relieve mild to moderate arthritis symptoms, a total hip replacement is sometimes required to improve symptoms.

Hip fractures

Hip fractures are serious injuries that can be fatal, and the risk of developing one increases with age. Hip fractures can occur due to a fall, another type of trauma, osteoporosis, or another condition. Hip fractures are frequently treated surgically or with a prosthesis.

Avascular necrosis

Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, occurs when blood does not reach the bones, either temporarily or permanently. This can result in the loss of the underlying bone. Blood flow is as vital to bones as any other organ, and when circulation around the hip bone is reduced or stopped, the bone tissue dies. Even though this can occur in any joint, it is most common in the hips and is often triggered by a hip injury.

Preventing hip pain

If you have hip pain, you should avoid activities that can aggravate it, such as long-distance running and prolonged standing.

You can also perform muscle-strengthening exercises to help strengthen your hip and relieve pain. Resistance band exercises, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, as well as yoga, are examples of these. Wearing flat shoes rather than high heels will also help.

Losing weight if you are overweight can help relieve joint strain and may even help you avoid future hip pain.

Treating minor hip pain

If you are experiencing minor hip pain that hasn't persisted for an extended period of time, you can try the following treatment methods at home:

  • Application of ice or heat
  • Pain relievers available over-the-counter
  • Rest your hip by avoiding direct pressure, repeated bending, and prolonged sitting

If none of these remedies provide adequate relief and your pain interferes with your daily activities, you should consult an orthopedic hip specialist.

When should I consult a doctor about hip pain?

If anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen don't relieve the pain, or if it lasts more than a week despite resting your hip, additionally prevents you from sleeping, or wakes you up at night, you should consult a doctor immediately.

In cases where your hip pain is caused by a fall or an injury and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you’ll need urgent medical attention:

  • Unbearable pain
  • Swelling that occurs suddenly
  • You are unable to move your leg or hip
  • One of the joints that appear to be deformed
  • If there are any signs of infection (fever, chills, redness)
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected leg is a medical condition

An orthopedic surgeon should be consulted to determine the source of hip pain. A consultation will typically include a physical exam, medical history, and imaging tests such as x-rays and MRIs.

When you visit Altenburg Joint Replacement, we will collect all of the information required to diagnose your hip pain, then recommend the most effective treatments available to help alleviate your pain to allow you to resume your regular lifestyle.

Call or book an appointment today to get the help you need.

Published online: Apr 15, 2022