Hip pain affects millions of people each year, but for many, it may feel like a minor inconvenience that you can “just live with.” Minor hip injuries such as muscle strains and ligament sprains can improve in a short period of time with minor treatment. Patients should never completely ignore hip pain, due to the risk of a serious injury worsening, or chronic hip pain eventually affecting your long-term mental health.
To help you better understand the major reasons to take any case of hip pain seriously, we’re sharing the following informative guide. The team at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America (OJRCA) is happy to help you learn more about hip pain treatment. Please feel free to reach out at any time.
1. Seemingly Minor Injuries Can Get Worse — Or Could Even be a Hip Fracture or Stress Fracture
Any hip pain that does not improve in a short period of time should be checked out by a qualified medical professional. First of all, minor muscle strain or ligament sprain can resolve which rest, but they can also develop into more chronic, nagging, long-term strain and repeated hip injury.
There is also the possibility that the “tweak” in your hips from a fall or collision is actually a hip fracture. While this is mostly associated with older patients, the risk of an untreated hip fracture or other injury is serious enough to warrant seeing a doctor for proper diagnosis of hip pain that does not improve in a few days to a week at most.
Likewise, for those who are avid runners, the progressive ache in a hip or thigh pain can be an early sign of over-use and even an impending hip stress fracture, which could lead to a more serious complete fracture of the hip that can even require surgery.
2. Many Causes of Hip Pain are Progressive in Nature
One of the biggest causes of hip joint pain is arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, which is caused by natural joint degeneration and general wear and tear,. Although there is no way to cure or prevent arthritis, catching it and treating it as early as possible offers better hope for long-term quality of life and helps to delay eventual hip replacement surgery.. Being proactive about both symptom management, improving hip function, and altering certain activities can potentially slow down the rate of progression for degeneration.
For example, certain therapeutic exercises can strengthen supporting muscles in the hip, helping to relieve stress on the joint and reduce wear and tear on joint cartilage. This in turn can reduce joint pain and inflammation in the hip and allow for improved activity level. Reducing certain impact loading activities can also help slow the speed at which arthritis progresses.
3. Untreated Hip Pain Can Lead to Compensatory Injuries
Whether the cause is an injury or arthritis, or both, ignoring any hip dysfunction can increase the risk of injury in other parts of the body. This is because our musculoskeletal system is a highly interconnected system. If hip pain causes you to alter your gait or posture, it can increase the stress in another area, such as your lower back, knees, or opposite hip.
What started as a case of hip pain can cascade into multiple injuries that make it even more difficult to find relief and stay active. By taking the time to let an injury heal, as well as addressing mechanical and postural issues, patients have the best chance of overcoming hip pain and avoiding other related issues.
4. Untreated Hip Pain Is Associated with A Sedentary Lifestyle
If hip pain goes untreated, or is not treated properly, it can become chronic. In addition to the pain itself, this can also cause people to be unable to complete basic daily activities. While becoming sedentary is a way to avoid pain in the short-term, it can lead to a downward spiral of muscle atrophy, decreased function and weight gain.
This can in turn contribute to worsening hip pain due to weakened supporting muscles and increased stress due to weight. These factors are why so many people with chronic hip pain feel like they are trapped in a vicious cycle.
5. Untreated Hip Pain Can Affect Your Mental Health and Relationships
Another risk of chronic hip pain related to avoiding treatment is a decline in mental health that can have a dramatic impact on your quality of life. Living with pain and being unable to participate in normal activities can lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia and other behavioral health concerns. These problems don’t just affect the person in pain either, but can impact relationships with friends and family.
In addition to relieving pain, there is some evidence that hip pain treatment can help improve mental health. One study found improvements in baseline mental health for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip who underwent total hip replacement surgery.
6. Hip Pain Treatment and Hip-Healthy Lifestyle Choices Can Help You Improve Overall Health
In most cases of hip pain, doctors will first recommend conservative treatments and lifestyle changes. While the primary goal is to relieve joint pain and improve function, many find that committing to a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan can improve overall health. This is because any hip pain treatment plan should be built on regular low-impact exercise, good nutrition and paying attention to mechanics and posture.
This benefits overall health by improving cardiovascular and respiratory health, helping with weight management strengthening muscles and many other benefits. While being sedentary can be part of a negative feedback loop, being proactive about whole-body treatment can create a positive feedback loop that helps your entire body, including your hip joint.
7. Putting off Hip Surgery When it is Necessary Can Cost More in the Long Run
For a large number of patients, hip pain can be managed successfully through committing to conservative treatment. Proper care can help injuries heal, and for degenerative conditions like arthritis, can help slow down progression of degeneration and relieve symptoms. However, in other cases, weeks or months can go by and hip pain does not improve or gets worse.
In these cases it is important to seriously consider the prospect of hip surgery. For patients dealing with joint pain due to arthritis a common problem is joint damage that leads to hip pain and dysfunction. This joint damage cannot heal on its own and will only worsen over time.
Hip replacement surgery can offer the best chance of pain relief and a return to an active lifestyle for patients with severe joint damage. In contrast, avoiding surgery when other options have been fully explored may mean paying for treatments that do not truly offer long-term relief.
Learn More About Outpatient Hip Replacement Surgery at OJRCA
Hip replacement surgery involves removing the damaged joint surfaces of the hip and replacing them with artificial implants. Modern surgical techniques and advanced technology allow for an approach that spares soft tissue, muscles and tendons, and permits full use and motion of the hip immediately following surgery. No hip “precautions” or limitations on movement, as used to be the case. No fear of dislocation. Decreased incision sizes (most between 3 and 5 inches) and almost always, an outpatient procedure.
At OJRCA, we combine these advancements with a unique multimodal pain prevention protocol that has revolutionized joint replacement recovery. This means a streamlined experience with less risk of complication and a shorter recovery compared to traditional approaches to hip replacement surgery.
To learn more about your options for hip pain relief, reach out to our caring and dedicated team today. We’ll be happy to help you develop an individualized care plan that is right for your needs and lifestyle.
You can also call us at (813) 492-4607.