The hips don’t lie—so if yours are in pain, you should pay attention.
Hip pain is a common issue that affects of the population today. If you’re experiencing hip pain, it’s crucial to act on it rather than ignoring it. The hip is a series of perpendicular axes that allows for flexing, extending as well as internal and external rotation. Along with providing movement, your hip bears weight and forces.
So just what should you be concerned about when dealing with hip pain? If you’re experiencing any of the issues below, you should contact a specialist.
The first step to healing your hips is getting informed, and learning to separate fact from fiction. To help you determine the best course of action for you, we’ve dispelled some common myths about hip pain and its potential treatments.
1. Myth: Young people don’t have hip pain
Fact: Hip pain can affect people of all ages. It’s common in young patients who have had childhood diseases like Perthes disease or dysplasia, while some 20- and 30-year-old deal athletes with overuse injuries. Patients, between the ages of 30 and 50 often experience wear and tear at the hip joint. Patients ages 50 and older commonly deal with “bad hips” and have pain in the worn joints.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common causes of hip pain among older adults. But in young adults, hip pain usually stems from a traumatic injury such as a car accident, or from an overuse injury sustained while participating in sports or other demanding physical activities.
There has also been a spike in recent years in the number of young women developing hip pain related to current or past activity. This is due in part to women’s increased participation in high-impact sports over the past few decades.
Hip replacement has long been used as a treatment for elderly patients who have run out of other options. But according to a 2015 report from the Center for Disease Control, the number of total hip replacements tripled for people ages 55 to 64 from 2000 to 2010, while the procedures increased 205 percent—from 138,000 to nearly 311,000—for those in the 45-54 age group. If non-operative treatments don’t help, surgeons say even people in their 20s and 30s are having procedures more often.
Thanks to new advances in hip replacement surgery, patients can expect a shorter recovery period, less pain, and fewer complications after the procedure. Plus, innovations in materials have nearly eliminated the possibility of hip replacements wearing out.
2. Myth: It’ll go away
Fact: Hip pain can come on suddenly or gradually present itself over time. While hip pain can sometimes improve on its own, it’s always a good idea to see a medical professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. If you don’t address the pain, it could lead to stress on other parts of your body, affecting your stability, or even causing you to develop a limp.
Many people tell themselves that their hip pain is temporary and try to ease it by resting, self-medicating, getting physical therapy or massages, or quitting their favorite activities altogether. These methods can provide temporary relief, but might not address the underlying cause. These approaches are only truly effective if they’re part of a multi-modal strategy in conjunction with medical treatment.
Zachery D. Post, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, who specializes in hip and knee arthroplasty and reconstruction notes that some causes of hip pain, like osteoarthritis, only worsen with time.
Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, affects nearly 30 million Americans, mostly over the age of 50, and often impacts the hips.
New research shows that osteoarthritis is not the inevitable outcome of a long and active life, but rather the result of a combination of factors, many of which can be modified or prevented. While some risk factors for osteoarthritis, like advanced age, can’t be changed, experts recommend taking preventative measures like maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, and wearing protective gear while playing sports to delay its onset.
“The bad news about osteoarthritis is that the gradual wearing away of healthy cartilage only gets worse with time and there is no cure,” Dr. Post says. “The good news about osteoarthritis is that at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, a variety of hip treatments are available to help patients maintain a high quality of life in spite of degenerative joint disease.”
If your hip pain persists, or if you notice swelling, redness, or warmth around the joint, don’t delay in calling your doctor.
3. Myth: Hip pain is only felt in the hips
Fact: Hip pain is not always easy to identify. Depending on the cause of your pain, you may feel discomfort in your thigh, groin, buttocks, or inside or outside of the hip joint.
It’s common for hip joint pain to be difficult to pinpoint. The hip joint is connected to many different nerves and tissues that work in conjunction with the hip. It’s a common misconception that the hip joint is in the side – it actually sits more in the groin then on the side. Because of its location, hip pain can feel like a pulled muscle in the groin.
Nerves run from the back down through to the hip, so it can feel like back pain. So if you’re experiencing pain in the body, whether it be your groin or your back, it’s important to see a specialist.
Whether you’ve already received a diagnosis or you’re just beginning your research, understanding the myths and realities about hip pain is essential to determining the best treatment plan for you. For more information, Rothman Orthopaedics’ Hip Pain Series is an extensive resource of detailed explanations, expert insight, and potential treatment options to help you live your most active life.