How do I know that my pain is coming from my hip?
The hip is an incredibly strong and mobile ball-and-socket joint. It allows us to walk, run, squat, jump, and perform tons of other movements with flexibility and ease. The hip joints also support and stabilize our body weight when we perform these movements and can even help protect our spine from excess forces.
Hip pain that comes from the actual joint tends to start slowly in the groin area in over 90% of cases. Some patients believe they have pulled a groin muscle, or might have a small hernia. They delay their diagnosis because the pain comes and goes like a nagging muscle or tendon injury.
Then, when the pain increases in intensity and frequency, they get a more formal evaluation. All too often, the joint has fully worn out by this time and options for treatment are few besides surgery.
Hip pain tends to be slowly debilitating, but can progress more rapidly for some. Patients have difficulty putting on shoes and socks, standing up, walking, getting in and out of vehicles, and performing other simple activities of daily life. It may be hard to determine exactly what’s causing your pain, because hip pain can radiate down the thigh all the way to the inside portion of the knee. If you’re experiencing sore, achy hips, keep reading to learn what may be causing it and your treatment options.
What Causes Hip Pain?
Hip pain may be caused by acute or overuse damage to the hip joint or surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Hip joint pain can present in multiple areas, including the outside of the hip, the groin, the upper thigh, or the buttock. Groin or deep buttock discomfort are signs that pain is originating from the joint.
Sports, high-impact activities like running or dancing, and physically demanding jobs can all lead to overuse injuries like stress fractures, muscle and tendon strains, bursitis, tendinitis, and soft tissue or cartilage tears. Traumatic accidents like a fall, car accident or direct blow to the hip can lead to a fracture or dislocation injury.
Arthritis is another common cause of hip pain. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that’s characterized by joint pain, stiffness and gradual loss of joint movement. It develops when cartilage that protects the bones of the joint begins to break down and erode. Over time, complete erosion of cartilage can lead to painful bone-on-bone friction. Osteoarthritis is caused by natural wear and tear on the joint with age. Additional risk factors include genetics, obesity, and a history of hip injuries.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Non-surgical measures are always the first course of action to treat hip injuries and conditions. Conservative treatment options include a combination of the following:
• R.I.C.E. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is an effective treatment method for many overuse and exercise-related hip injuries like tendon or muscle strains, tendinitis, or bursitis. Rest and activity modification for a few weeks is especially important to give your injury adequate time to heal before diving back into sports and other activities.
• Medications. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve mild-moderate pain and inflammation caused by soft tissue injuries and arthritis. For more significant pain, your doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller or a short-term course of oral steroids.
• Injections. Corticosteroid injections can relieve joint inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. A cortisone shot is not a permanent treatment — it’s a temporary solution that lasts anywhere from a few months to a year. During this time, you’ll have greater mobility and the opportunity to work on strengthening your hip joint and surrounding muscles.
• Physical therapy. During physical therapy, a therapist can work with you to help regain muscle and joint strength, flexibility, and range of motion after an injury or as part of arthritis management.
• Stretching and exercise. Regular exercise helps you maintain strong, healthy muscles and joints. If you have arthritis, regular non or limited impact exercise reduces pain and inflammation, improves mobility and helps you stay active for longer. Low-impact exercises include walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga, and using an elliptical. And make sure you’re stretching before AND after a workout!
• Weight loss. Excess body weight places additional stress on your joints, especially weight bearing joints like the hip. That additional stress increases your risk for developing injuries and arthritis. Talk to your doctor about the weight range you should be in and how you can incorporate healthy routines into your lifestyle.
Keep in mind that arthritis is a chronic condition that currently has no known cure. Although the treatments listed above can help you preserve your quality of life and stay active for many years, the disease may continue to progress and cause joint damage.
A combination of the treatments and lifestyle changes listed above can be very effective for treating acute soft tissue and exercise-related injuries. However, some injuries may require surgical repair.
Arthroscopy of the hip is a much less common hip surgery with limited use in arthritis. It is a minimally invasive procedure that allows surgeons to get a detailed look inside the hip joint. During the procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision and inserts a small camera (an arthroscope) into the joint. The camera displays images of the joint on a video screen, and your surgeon uses the images to guide small surgical tools used for repair.
Arthroscopy is primarily used in younger patients to repair torn labral cartilage. It can also help in cases of hip impingement, where the ball and socket abut one another and cause caftilage damage and early arthritis. In the rare case that arthritic changes have not set in, arthroscopy is an option but should be performed by surgeons, known as “hip preservation specialists” who nearly exclusively care for young hips.
Total Hip Replacement
When conservative treatment is not effective for managing your pain and symptoms, it may be time to consider a total hip replacement. In the right hands, hip surgery is not the invasive ordeal it once was and does not put patients out of commission for weeks or months while rehabilitating.
At Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America, we provide outpatient total hip replacement procedures in the ambulatory surgical center (ASC) setting. Outpatient surgery is possible in over 90% of cases. Minimally invasive muscle sparing, tendon sparing, procedures require a much smaller incision (as small as 3-5 inches) and cause much less muscle and tissue damage. Our method uses a combination of minimally invasive surgical techniques and a unique pain prevention protocol to get our patients up and walking 1-2 hours after surgery and back home a few hours after that.
We’ve been developing and refining our custom pain protocols for 7 years now, and we continue to look for the best ways to prevent and manage our patients’ pain during and after surgery. During the joint replacement procedure, we use new local anesthetics that can diminish pain for up to 2-3 days after surgery without affecting muscle function. This protocol reduces postoperative pain, reduces a postoperative reliance on narcotic medications, and motivates patients to get up and start walking sooner.
Following surgery, you go home without any activity restrictions. Most surgeons today still use older surgical techniques that place restrictions on movement and activities. This slows and delays recovery. Outpatient rehabilitation at a physical therpy clinic near you, starts the day after surgery, eliminating the need for in-patient rehabilitation or home health therapy. Many patients return to work and their normal activities within days to weeks.
Call OJRCA to Learn About Outpatient Joint Replacement Surgery
If hip pain from arthritis is keeping you from being active and enjoying the quality of life that you deserve, it may be time to consider outpatient joint replacement surgery. At Outpatient Joint Replacement Centers of America, we’re committed to helping you reclaim your health and former activity levels. Please call us at 813-492-4758 or reach out online to schedule an appointment with our team.