Hip pain affects everyone at some point in their life, from athletes to people who work physical jobs. It can become especially common as we get older. 

The hips link the upper body to the lower extremities through the pelvis. This makes the hip joints essential to carrying out all everyday movements. Strong and stable hips are critical for basic functions from standing, sitting and walking all the way to jumping and running. Because of this heavy use and daily wear and tear the hips and the soft tissue that surrounds the hips are especially vulnerable to a wide spectrum of injuries and conditions. 

Persistent hip pain can have an immense effect on quality of life. Patients suffering from hip pain can have difficulty sleeping and spending quality of time with loved ones. This can affect your personal life, professional life and your ability to enjoy favorite hobbies and activities. 

Whether you have been suffering from hip pain for years or are researching causes of recent problems, learning more about hip pain causes can benefit you as you search for relief. The following detailed and comprehensive guide explains hip pains causes, from basic anatomy to wear and tear conditions to injuries including hip fractures.

The caring staff at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America is here to help. We encourage you to reach out with any questions or if you’d like to learn more about your hip pain treatment options.  

Understanding Basic Hip Anatomy

The hips are a type of synovial joint. This refers to a type of joint where two bones move against each other and are protected by a synovial membrane and cartilage that enables smooth motion. 

The hips consist of two ball and socket joints linking the pelvis to the upper leg bones, or femurs. The sockets in the pelvis are known as the acetabulum. The synovial fluid and cartilage work together to lubricate and absorb shock for the hips, enabling stability and reducing friction. 

The hip bones are connected by three ligaments between the thigh bone and the pelvis, and, thay actually also make up the capsule of the hip.

The anterior and posterior muscles allow the hips to move. These groups of muscles surround the hip. Finally there is a ring of cartilage called the acetabular labrum. This horseshoe-shaped piece of tissue helps to stabilize the hip joint and if torn, can be a source of pain.. 

The Difference Between Degenerative Hip Conditions and Hip Injury

Hip pain causes can be divided into two broad categories. These are degenerative, or “wear and tear” conditions, and injuries. Although the two causes are not mutually exclusive. In fact, natural degeneration can increase the risk of injury. Likewise, serious and/or frequent injuries can accelerate natural joint breakdown and degeneration. 

However, while an individual such as a muscle strain and even some hip fractures have the potential to heal on their own, degenerative conditions are not reversible. Understanding how natural degeneration and wear and tear lead to hip joint damage and pain can play a key role in your approach to treating hip pain. 

How Everyday Wear and Tear Contributes to Conditions Such As Arthritis

As discussed above, we put our hips through tremendous stress everyday, but how does this contribute to wear and tear? The single biggest driving factor is that as we age, our bodies basically begin to dry out. This makes our soft tissue and skeleton far more brittle and less elastic. 

This means the actual bones dry out and become less dense, increasing the risk of hip fractures. What’s more, the protective cartilage and synovial layer also becomes brittle and begins to wear down. This increases joint friction, leading to the painful stiffness and joint inflammation known as osteoarthritis of the hip.  

This inflammation is the result of bone-on-bone contact that over time can lead to severe joint damage. This results in aches, pains and stiffness as well as cracking and grinding sensations that can be extremely debilitating. 

Hip Injuries Include Strains And Sprains As Well As Hip Fractures

Patients of any age are prone to a wide range of hip injuries. Athletes such as runners can develop repetitive motion injuries such as hip flexor strains and bursitis, which is inflammation of pillow-like sacs that help enable hip movement. Higher-impact sports, such as football, basketball or crossfit, have an increased risk of labral tears and hip impingement. 

Hip fractures are an example of a hip pain cause that is both an injury and related to natural wear and tear. Hip fractures are most typically related to a break in the upper femur. Hip fractures become far more likely in older patients due to decreased bone density. However, hip fractures can still occur in younger patients as a result of traumatic injury, such as a vehicle accident. 

For elderly patients, hip fractures commonly result from a household or community fall. 

How Certain Hip Pain Causes May Affect Treatment

The best course of treatment for hip pain depends on the individual patient and their diagnosis. Hip fractures often require prompt surgery, while muscle strains and other soft tissue injuries can heal with the help of diligent conservative treatment. 

Hip pain causes are generally diagnosed with a diagnostic evaluation that involves the following steps:

  • Review of you and your family’s medical history
  • Questions about specific symptoms and daily activities
  • A physical examination and movement tests to check for range of motion and painful areas
  • Diagnostic imagery such as an X-ray or MRI, depending on the suspected hip pain cause

Upon diagnosis of most wear and tear conditions or injuries, conservative treatment is typically the recommendation of most doctors. Common conservative therapies for hip pain include:

  • Getting plenty of rest to reduce pressure on the injured or damaged hip
  • Physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase strength and stability through a combination of therapeutic exercises and manual therapy
  • Therapeutic injections, including pain-relieving steroid injections and regenerative platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to help reduce inflammation and/or stimulate the body’s natural healing process
  • Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutrient-rich diet and plenty of low-impact exercise
  • Taking over-the-counter medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed to manage pain and inflammation 

For many injuries that are hip pain causes, committing to conservative therapy can help encourage healing. It is important not to resume any activities until cleared by a physician, as getting back into action too soon can increase the risk of reinjury and long-term joint damage. 

Those with age-related conditions can often experience a good quality of life by committing to conservative treatment, however, if weeks or months go by without relief and joint damages worsens, surgery can become a serious consideration. 

When to Consider a Hip Replacement Surgery 

When exploring surgical options the recommended procedure type is usually based on the diagnosis, severity of joint damage, age and patient’s state of health.

Patients with severe hip damage caused by age-related arthritis or recurring  wear and tear injuries, total hip replacement surgery can offer a good prospect for long-term relief and increased hip function. Traditional approaches to hip replacement surgery require overnight hospitalization and a long recovery. Fortunately there is a new alternative.

The OJRCA Outpatient Hip Replacement Method

OJRCA and board-certified surgeon Dr. Philip J. Clifford utilizes a state-of-the-art approach to joint replacement procedures that takes advantage of proprietary anesthesia and multimodal pain management protocols. 

Through this approach we offer outpatient procedures at our state-of-the-art surgery center that leads to a shorter recovery time and a reduced risk of complication in comparison to traditional hip replacement surgery. 
If you’re looking for lasting relief from hip pain, contact us today to learn more about your hip pain causes and treatment options or call us at (813) 492-4607.


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