What is hip pain?
Hip pain is the discomfort that occurs in the hip or around it, including in the groin, thigh or knee.
Pain in the hip can be accompanied by heat in the painful area, fever, swelling, or stiffness in the hip joint. You might find it difficult to walk or stand, bend over, or sit down without discomfort.
What are the causes of hip pain?
There are a wide range of things that can cause hip pain. Acute injuries or conditions affecting the hip in the short term include:
- hip fractures
- hip labral tears
- muscle strain
- infection in the bones or joints of the area
Chronic conditions which can cause hip pain include:
Finally, some conditions can affect the hip indirectly. One of the most common in older age is spinal stenosis, which can affect the nerves in the lower part of your spine and cause sharp pain down the hips and legs.
Can hip pain be prevented?
You can help protect your hip joint by:
- always warming up before exercise
- ensuring you have the correct walking equipment if you are unsteady on your feet to avoid falls
- avoiding exercises that elevate one hip over the other (running on uneven surfaces)
- warming up before each exercise
- using protective pads on the hip when playing contact sports
- maintaining a healthy weight
- strengthening your back and legs to support your hips with careful strength training
Some conditions, such as spinal stenosis, cannot be fully prevented, and you may require medical treatment.
What is the treatment for hip pain?
The treatment will depend on the pathology that causes it. In most cases the first line of treatment is non-surgical and includes exercises, weight control, physical therapy, orthopaedic legwear, heat and cold therapy, and acupuncture, All of these aim to reduce the pain in your hip and improve your range of motion.
In some cases, a pharmacological treatment is also required, which can include:
- over-the-counter painkillers
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- steroid injections
In some cases, if the pain cannot be managed with conservative methods, surgery may be required, such as:
These procedures are carried out by an orthopaedic surgeon.