Arthritis isn’t the only cause of hip pain. Find out which condition may be causing your discomfort — and how to treat it.
Hip pain doesn’t only affect older adults — stiffness and pain in this joint can strike younger people, too. Although osteoarthritis ranks high on the list of causes of hip pain, the discomfort can result from overuse or injuries at any age.
In most cases, the pain radiates from the side of the hip or groin. It can also be felt in the buttocks. The pain may worsen when you stand, walk, sit for long periods, or twist the hips. If your pain persists, see an orthopedist for a correct diagnosis and treatment.
What Causes Hip Pain?
To determine the exact cause of your hip pain, your doctor will analyze your movements, review your symptoms, and order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. Those details should provide a picture of what’s happening in your hip.
Common causes of hip pain include:
Osteoarthritis. When the cartilage cushioning the hip joint wears down, it can lead to pain and stiffness. Mostly the result of advanced age, osteoarthritis may also be due to a fracture or infection of the hip joint.
Bursitis. The bursae, or the fluid-sacs between the bones and soft tissue of the hip joint, sometimes become inflamed when the hip is stressed from overuse. That’s why bursitis is especially common among runners.
Labral Hip Tear. The hip joint is formed by the femur (the ball) and the pelvic acetabulum (the socket). A ring of cartilage — the acetabular labrum — surrounds the joint. An injury or a malformed hip (known as hip dysplasia) may cause the femoral head to grind against the acetabulum, eventually rupturing the labrum.
Hip Impingement. A hip impingement develops when the bones of the hip joint rub against each other, causing significant pain. The most likely cause is an ill-fit between the ball and socket of the hip joint, which can also lead to cartilage damage.
Fracture. As we age, our bones weaken and become more susceptible to fracture. If you fall and feel sharp, sudden pain, seek immediate medical attention. A blood clot in the leg can form following a hip fracture, which makes it especially important to act fast.
Osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis, or avascular necrosis, is a breakdown of the hip bone because blood fails to penetrate the bones. Over time, the cartilage and bones wear away, leading to severe bone loss. In most cases, a definitive cause is not determined, although joint trauma, excessive steroid use, and certain cancer treatments may put a person at greater risk.
Snapping Hip Syndrome. Another rare condition, snapping hip syndrome, is characterized by a snapping sound or feeling in the hip, particularly when you walk or rise from a chair. Dancers and athletes are prone to this condition, which is usually painless.
Treatment for Hip Pain
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan, which can range from conservative therapy to surgery. If the pain is due to overuse, a few days of rest can heal the strained joint or tendon. For arthritis, pain medication and physical therapy can help heal the pain and encourage freedom of movement.
Some conditions, however, may require surgery. If a labrum tear or impingement doesn’t respond to conservative treatments like physical therapy, arthroscopic surgery can repair the damaged cartilage. Therapies for bursitis typically involve physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases of bursitis, surgery may be an option to drain the bursa or remove it altogether.
If the damage to the hip is substantial, either due to advanced arthritis or a fracture, hip replacement surgery is available. After surgery, intensive physical therapy will be needed to get you acclimated to your new joint.
If your hip pain doesn’t fade in a couple of days, it’s time to see a specialist at New York Bone & Joint. Using the latest technology, we’ll diagnose your condition and recommend a customized treatment plan. Contact us today for a consultation.