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Hip Pain


The hip, also known as a “ball-and-socket” joint, is one of the body’s strongest joints. Your hip joint is made up of your pelvis and the top of your long leg bone, the femur. Together, they work to help you move freely through the world and do all of those tasks that help you get through your day like walking, jogging, getting into and out of the car, getting into and out of bed, picking up a dropped pen, and so much more. When a part of the hip joint is injured or irritated, it can lead to pain, which can be caused by a
number of different potential diagnoses or conditions.

Causes & Triggers

There are many different reasons why you might experience pain in your hip. In some cases, it can be the result of a direct force, like a fall or accident. In other instances, it can be because of repeated or stressful movements that happen over time, like training for a marathon or working in a role that requires repeated movements like heavy lifting or bending forward. In other cases, it may even be that the pain is originating from somewhere else, like the low back or abdomen.

  • Arthritis
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Bursitis
  • Fracture

Signs & Symptoms

Pain in and around the hip joint can be described in many different ways. Below is a list of symptoms of some of the causes of hip pain:

  • Location: pain can be along the front, outside, inside (groin), or back of the hip (glutes)
  • Pain descriptors:
    • Dull, Achey
    • Sharp, Shooting
    • Burning
    • Numbness, Tingling

● Other descriptors:

○ Catching
○ Clicking
○ Buckling or giving way
○ Grinding
○ Snapping

● Changes or limits in hip range of motion

The words used to describe what’s going on will be different for each person; sometimes, even if the cause is the same, and this list does not include all the ways in which people can describe their pain or situation.
That’s one reason why it’s important to see a healthcare provider, like a physician or physical therapist, who can help you determine the possible cause of your pain and can prescribe the right treatment options for your situation.

Tips & Treatment

Generally, hip pain is assessed by a healthcare professional – a primary care physician or a physical therapist are some of the first people you may go to see. They will often examine your hip motion, muscle strength, balance, and they may use additional, or special tests, to help them better understand the source of pain. In some cases, a healthcare provider may request imaging to help in the diagnostic process. Many of the causes of hip pain can be treated with conservative care, which often involves
physical therapy. It may also include medications or injections as prescribed by your physician. In other cases, you may be referred to a specialist, like an orthopedic surgeon, to discuss possible surgical options.

Procedures/Treatments Associated with the Condition:
Depending on the cause of your hip pain and other factors, the types of procedures or treatments that will work best for you can vary. With conservative care, a physical therapist will work with you, often to improve strength, range of motion, and/or decrease your pain through exercises, movements, and other recommendations. As you progress, the physical therapist may begin to work with you on specific tasks or activities that you’re looking to get back to or improve upon. Physical therapy is often a first line of treatment for hip pain, but if a bout of physical therapy
does not improve your condition, or if your injury is more severe, a physician may recommend surgery as a treatment option. Surgical procedures for the hip can range from a hip arthroscopy to a replacement of the hip joint. Typically, you’ll also work with a physical therapist following a hip procedure to optimize the work that was done and help you get back to your daily activities confidently, safely, and with the tools you need to help manage your condition.

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