Timing is Important in Addressing Hip Pain

Woman with hip painHip pain is often a symptom of arthritis and it is also often a precursor to diminished mobility and quality of life. With prompt attention, though, this problem can be properly managed. Far too often, we see patients only after they have lived with the pain of hip arthritis for several years, not recognizing the implications of their condition. We hope that more people will see the potential danger in letting pain go on too long and that we may help restore a better quality of living whenever possible.

The hip joint looks like a ball-and-socket. The rounded head of the upper leg bone fits into the hip. The entire structure is smoothed by cartilage, a slippery tissue that enables bones to glide over one another without friction. Arthritis is a condition in which the cartilage wears down. As this continues, the bones of the hip joint no longer glide but rub against each other during movement. The friction can lead to pain and stiffness, as well as bone spurs that further degrade the joint space. There is no cure for arthritis but, with awareness and specific strategies, it may be possible to slow down the deterioration of the joint.

There are three types of arthritis that may affect the hip joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common. This type of arthritis is a matter of usage. The hips, as well as the knees, are at work more often than not. They carry the weight of the upper torso and must move in a variety of ways. Over time, this causes the cartilage in the hip joint to wear down. Injury to the hip, excess weight or dysplasia can increase the risk of osteoarthritis at an earlier age.

Spotting the Signs

It is valuable to know the signs of hip arthritis because it enables you to take action at the first indication that this joint may be wearing down. Symptoms of hip arthritis include:

  • Increased hip pain in cold or rainy weather.
  • Pain in the groin area. This may radiate to the buttocks, outer thigh or knee.
  • A grinding noise or sensation when moving the hip.
  • Pain that is worse after sitting for a time or first thing in the morning.
  • Pain that worsens after physical activity.
  • Difficulty getting into a seated or standing position. Difficulty getting out of a car.
  • Altered gait, such as leaning to one side when walking.
  • Locking or sticking of the hip.

Treating Hip Arthritis

At the earliest indication of hip pain, it is beneficial to rest and ice as needed. Some activities may need to be modified to ensure you are using proper body mechanics. As needed, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be taken to reduce pain. If pain worsens or continues, a thorough physical examination and consultation should be sought. This may lead to a course of physical therapy in which the muscles around the hips can be strengthened. A doctor may also recommend injections of steroid medication to achieve a stronger anti-inflammatory effect.

Surgery is the final destination for hip pain, and it can be life-changing in the best way. If you’ve been living with hip pain, don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. Contact our Paramus, NJ hip and knee center at 201.291.4040.

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