The main purpose of the hip joint is to help us keep our balance and support the structures of the upper body. And ,as you can imagine, it is under an enormous amount of stress each and every day and, if there are some problems within the joint, they often manifest as joint pain.
The joint itself is build between the pelvis (by a socket joint surface) and the head of the femur. Since this is a “ball and socket” joint, it allows a wide range of motion, but the configuration of the femur (its long neck) is a weakness point, and this is where, most often, fractures occur.
Sometimes it can be hard for patients to describe the origin of the pain correctly, but the doctors will help them “pick” one of the four possible categories:
- Anterior pain. This is the pain felt in front of the hip, often characterized as groin pain.
- Posterior pain. This is the pain felt at the back of the hip, in the buttocks region.
- Lateral pain. When the feeling of pain is present on one or both sides of the hip.
- Referred knee pain. Last but not least, sometimes patients may feel pain in the knee which is actually referring pain from the hip itself.
Another common symptom is limping. Honestly speaking, you don`t have to be a rocket scientist (or a doctor in this case) to know that if you start to limp, something is wrong; but, you need to notify your doctor of it immediately and get to the bottom of the problem.
Limping will not only negatively influence your hip and leg joints, it will also have a negative effect on your balance, posture, or cause inflammation and many other secondary problems. So, if it appears deal with it straight away!
Causes Of Pain
Some of the most common conditions, known to cause joint pain are:
Hip fractures are a prevailing problem with elderly people, but are not uncommon with youngsters as well. As we get older, out bones become weaker and more brittle, which are more likely to break when compared to the young, healthy bones.
Of course, even if the bones are healthy and strong, they can suffer fractures in, for example, car accidents, falls from a great height, sporting accidents etc.
Certainly, one of the most common cause of, not just hip joint pain, but joint pain in general. Whether it is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, chances are you may develop hip pain. Since arthritis will, usually, start out slow and cause gradual breakdown of cartilage, the pain will gradually get worse. This is why you should alert your doctor at the first sign of pain, don`t try to be a hero and convince yourself nothing is wrong, delay can only make things worse.
Muscle and/or Tendon Strains
Repetitive activities or any sudden, challenging ones can take their toll on the muscles and tendons surrounding your hip joint and cause severe pain, making even the most activities tough.
Sciatic pain tends to start in your back and descend down, to your buttocks, back of your things, knee and, sometimes, even lower. Patients describe sciatic pain as the feeling of tingling, numbness, burning and/or sharp and stabbing pain. If not treated in time, it can lead to further damage!
Walking and Running and Hip Pain
If you start experiencing hip pain while running or walking, you should immediately stop with what you are doing and, ideally, contact your doctor and ask for further assistance.
There are many number of causes, some of which we already mentioned, which can lead to this pain and if you decide to continue walking (or running) you might make things even worse and intensify the pain. You must contact your doctor so he/she can perform a proper diagnosis, suggesting X-rays (if necessary) and some over-the-counter medication.
Pain In Pregnancy
Hip pain in pregnancy is normal, to some degree. After all, your body is going through some major changes and you are gaining some extra weight; and, by doing so, you are putting a lot of extra pressure to your joints, muscles and ligaments.
If the pain is mild, there are a few things you can do to make it more bearable, and those are:
- Getting a proper pillow or even a more suitable mattress, if you can
- Rest any chance you get
- Schedule regular massages to relax your body further
- Try pilates or yoga
Relief And Treatment
As a first line of defense, people often use over-the-counter meds and ice and, even those will help you in the short term, you need to keep in mind that they will only address the symptoms (pain) of some underlying problem (in your hip). This is why it is vital that you visit your doctor, get to the bottom of the problem and devise a proper treatment routine.
Of course, exercise is a universal “cure” and I recommend it to all of you. Depending on your physical fitness and the level of pain, you can go with high or low impact exercises.
NOTE: if you feel sudden, severe pain, hear a popping noise, spot hip deformity or simply think something is wrong, call your doctor immediately!