Hip pain treatments: What are your options?
When your hip hurts, the discomfort can affect many parts of your life. A variety of conditions can restrict hip movement and cause pain. This can interfere with daily activities and exercise, complicating even simple tasks, such as walking to the mailbox or bending to pick up an item. Fortunately, many hip pain treatment options are available. The key is finding one (or more) that provides consistent relief and allows you to stay active and mobile.
Finding the best hip pain treatment for you can take time. You'll start with the most conservative treatments. If those don't work, your doctor may recommend more sophisticated options, such as hip replacement surgery, which can be a good option if other treatments aren't effective.
What's hurting your hip? Common reasons for hip pain
A key part of finding an effective hip pain treatment is figuring out what's causing the discomfort. From wearing down of cartilage to soft-tissue damage, many injuries and chronic conditions can cause hip problems. Some common causes include:
- Bursitis. Sacs of fluid called bursae sit between the bones and soft tissues of the hip like tiny pillows to reduce friction during movement. Inflammation can affect the bursae and cause pain on the outer hip.
- Hip strain. Overstretching or tearing a
hip muscle can weaken the joint and cause pain and swelling.
- Osteoarthritis. One of several
types of arthritis that can affect the hip joint, osteoarthritis causes
cartilage in the joint to break down. This can eliminate the cushioning between
bones, leading to groin and thigh pain, hip stiffness, and reduced range of
arthritis. Less common than osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system causes
cartilage-destroying inflammation throughout the body and potentially in the
hips. This can lead to groin or thigh pain, discomfort that worsens with rest
but improves with activity, and loss of range of motion.
- Tendinitis. Inflammation of tendons, the soft tissues that link muscles and bones, can cause pain during movement.
No two cases of hip pain are precisely the same, which is why a treatment that's effective for your best friend or sister may not be as successful for you. The best treatment for hip pain is the one that works for you. How do you find an effective treatment? Start by seeing your primary care provider, who can recommend ways to reduce hip pain or refer you to an orthopedic specialist, if necessary.
Your primary care provider's first recommendation may be to try medications to relieve symptoms. Some of these medications are available without a prescription. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help you manage pain and reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen and other over-the-counter pain relievers can also help. Be sure to discuss the potential side effects of pain- and inflammation-relieving medications with your provider.
Along with using medications, you can take other steps to help your hip feel better, including:
excess pounds. Excess
weight puts more pressure on joints in your lower body, including the hips.
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce hip pain.
to less strenuous types of exercise. Low-impact
activities, such as walking
and swimming, are better for an aching hip than running and other high-impact
forms of exercise.
- Try RICE. RICE stands for "rest, ice, compression, and elevation." Rest from activities that cause hip pain, apply an ice pack to the painful area, wear a compression bandage on the hip to aid blood flow, and elevate the affected leg above the level of your heart when resting.
How physical therapy can help a hurting hip
Your physical therapist can recommend safe forms of exercise that will benefit your hip. These exercises may also strengthen your hip muscles, reduce pain, and improve the joint's flexibility and range of motion. Finally, your physical therapist can teach you ways to complete daily activities with less discomfort.
Getting to the (pain) point: Hip pain treatment with injections
If other forms of treatment fall short of controlling hip pain, corticosteroid injections into the joint may help. These injections may be effective for patients with arthritis, hip strains, and other hip problems.
After numbing the injection site with medicine, your provider may use X-ray or ultrasound imaging and contrast dye to guide the needle to the source of your pain. The numbing medication may help your hip feel better within minutes, although the effect is usually temporary. Longer-lasting pain relief usually kicks in within a week.
Relief operations: Surgical options
Why would surgery make sense for you? It may provide long-term relief if other treatments haven't worked and hip pain is affecting your quality of life, including limiting your daily activities or sidelining you from things you love.
One surgical option is hip arthroscopy. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a few small incisions in the hip and use a camera-equipped scope and specialized surgical instruments to remove or repair damaged soft tissues or take out troublesome bits of bone.
For some patients, replacing the damaged ball and socket of the hip with metal, plastic, or ceramic parts can help them return to an active life with less pain. Robotic hip replacement using the Mako robotic arm allows surgeons to place the implants more precisely. A CT scan taken before the surgery lets the surgeon view the patient's hip in 3D and plan the operation. During the surgery, the surgeon uses a robotic arm equipped with small tools to place the artificial component, based on the preoperative plan. This can lead to faster recoveries than with traditional surgeries.
Ready to find a hip pain treatment that works for you? Request an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at Reid Health Comprehensive Bone & Joint Center.