The hip joint, which is the body’s largest ball and socket joint, can usually withstand a reasonable amount of wear and tear over time, but it’s not indestructible. Hip pain is a very common complaint that can occur due to a number of reasons. And although most people feel hip pain in or around the hip, sometimes it can be felt in other areas like the thigh or groin area.
Causes of Hip Pain
There are common injuries and conditions that can cause hip pain. This pain can be described as a burning sensation in the area, sharp pain, or aching, and the severity can range from mild and severe to intense.
Common causes of hip pain include:
1. Hip Fractures
As we age, our bones become weak and brittle as we age. This can lead one to easily fracture the hip bone after a simple fall. A hip fracture, also known as a break in the upper quarter of the thigh bone, can also occur as a result of a blow, stress injury or medical conditions like osteoporosis that lead to the weakening of the bones. This kind of hip pain as a result of a fracture is described as deep and boring and is usually felt in the groin area or upper thigh.
This is considered one of the most common causes of hip pain. Arthritis is a disease that causes the breakdown of joint cartilages that cushion the hip bones. This can lead to difficulty walking, tender and stiff joints, and overall pain that gets worse over time.
When the thick cords that attach muscle to bone, also known as tendons, get inflamed, then the condition is known as tendonitis. This leads to a feeling of tenderness and pain outside the hip joint. Tendinitis occurs due to excess use of the tendons.
This is a condition that affects the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the tendons, bones and muscles close to the hip joint. It usually occurs when these sacs become inflamed, and the condition is considered quite painful.
5. Muscle strain
Muscle and tendon strains occur as a result of a micro tear in the tendons, muscles or ligaments which support the hips. This condition can lead to pain, in addition to preventing the hip from working correctly.
6. Avascular Necrosis
This condition comes about due to the death of the bone tissue as a result of lack of blood supply. The blood flow can be disrupted by certain factors such as a dislocated or broken bone. Long-term use of steroids can also lead to avascular necrosis.
7. Hip Labral Tear
A labrum is a ring of cartilage which follows the outward rim of the hip joint socket. Its main purpose is to cushion the hip joint and to help secure the thighbone within the hip socket. When it twists due to one reason or another, like performing repetitive twist movements, then it is known as a hip labral tear. Athletes are at most risk of developing this form of hip pain.
8. Bone Cancer
Bone cancer, either metastatic or primary, which spreads to the bones, or starts from the bones can cause bone pain, including hip pain.
Symptoms of Hip Pain
Although there are a number of hip pain causes, the symptoms usually depend on the cause. Some of these symptoms include:
- Difficulty in walking
- Foot weakness
- Pain radiating from either the groin, inside of the hip joint, thigh, buttocks, or outside of the hip joint
- Warmth over the hip
Hip Pain Relief
There are some types of hip pain that do not warrant any kind of invasive treatment and can be alleviated by over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines. These include osteoarthritis, tendon tear and strain, tendonitis, and muscle strain. For causes such as rheumatoid arthritis, one might be given prescription anti-rheumatic, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Other ways one can ease hip pain before seeking a doctor is by resting the hip joint, holding a pack of ice over the area for a few minutes, or heating the affected area. Non-impact exercises like swimming can also help with hip pain which is as a result of arthritis. Other exercises like resistance training and stretching can also improve the condition.
If the arthritis becomes quite severe leading to a hip deformity or causing intense pain, then an arthroplasty (total hip replacement) may be required. Also, hip pain as a result of a fracture may need surgery to fix it or replace it completely.
When to See a Doctor
Call your nearest emergency department if:
- The hip pain doesn’t go away
- The pain is as a result of an injury
- The pain came on suddenly
- The pain is intense
- The hip joint is bleeding or looks deformed
- You’re unable to move your hip or leg
- There was a popping sound when the injury occurred
At King’s College Hospital London, we have leading UK-trained Orthopedics who use the latest and minimally invasive techniques to treat hip joint pain and other related conditions. For more information on hip pain treatment, get in touch using the form below.