From walking and running to simply getting out of a chair, your hips are put through a lot of strain every day. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that many of us occasionally suffer from a few aches and pains.
While you might think of a bad hip as something that only happens to older people, in fact hip problems can affect any age group and there are number of possible reasons for this. Describing your symptoms to a doctor will help them work out the reason for your hip pain.
Arthritis and other cartilage injuries
The most common cause of hip pain is a condition called osteoarthritis. Symptoms include an aching, stiffness or tenderness in your hip and groin that can make it uncomfortable to perform simple movements, such as walking or getting dressed. You might also experience a grating sensation when you try to move your hips.
You can’t cure osteoarthritis entirely, but its symptoms can be managed with medication, so speak to a doctor about potential treatment.
Another possible cause of hip pain is septic arthritis, which occurs when the joint becomes infected. In these cases, you might notice your pain is accompanied by a fever.
In addition to arthritis, torn or damaged cartilage can cause your bones to rub or grate alongside each other, which is likely to cause discomfort.
Children might also experience a condition known as irritable hip, which is usually caused by a problem with the protective membrane surrounding the joint. Inflammation of this membrane can be painful and cause a temporary limp. While this usually clears up on its own, it can be a sign of something more serious, so you should check with a doctor to be sure.
Hip bone injuries
While you might think that injuries to the hip bone are usually caused by falling over, there are in fact a few conditions that can affect it.
Of course, some people do fall and suffer a hip fracture. The reason this is an injury commonly associated with older people is that the bones weaken as we age, meaning a fracture is more likely.
The joint itself is formed by the connection of two bones, the femur (upper leg) and the hip socket. Sometimes, these bones might not join together as they should and this can lead to hip pain.
For example, dysplasia occurs when the hip socket is not the correct shape, or isn’t in the correct position, to properly support the leg. This can lead to the two bones rubbing together, which can be painful.
Blood flow problems, known as osteonecrosis, occur when your hip joint is not getting as much blood as it needs. This can cause damage to the hip bone that is often painful.
Exercise-related hip problems
The hip is a weight-bearing joint and exercising increases the pressure on it. Over-exerting yourself can lead to hip pain, while if you have arthritis, exercising can sometimes trigger your symptoms.
Muscle injuries in areas such as the hamstrings will cause pain in your hip, while there is a condition called ‘iliotibial band syndrome’ that causes the ligaments in your thigh to swell.
Your exercise regime could cause hip pain if you fail to warm up correctly, frequently run on hard or rough terrain or wear shoes that don’t fit you properly. There is also a risk of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), such as bursitis.
Your sciatic nerve begins at the base of your spine and runs right through your lower limbs. While not located in the hips, if too much pressure is placed on this nerve, it can cause a condition known as sciatica, which can occasionally result in hip pain.
There are muscles in your hip, such as the piriformis, which could put pressure on the sciatic nerve if they become swollen or inflamed.
If sciatica is the cause, you will likely experience additional pain in areas such as your back and legs.
Often, hip pain is only temporary and will go away on its own in a couple of weeks, particularly if you allow yourself plenty of rest. Of course, there are ways you can deal with your discomfort in the meantime, with painkillers such as ibuprofen providing welcome relief for many sufferers.
If you do exercise frequently, then reducing the intensity of your run or workout will likely help with the pain and potentially prevent it getting worse. Physiotherapy is a possibility, while there various exercises you can do to alleviate hip pain, such as yoga.
You can also get advice on your footwear and work on ways to prevent your running style from placing too much pressure on your hip joints.
Of course, the first step towards treatment is a proper diagnosis. Speak to a doctor today and find out what could be causing your hip pain.