Hip pain can be caused by a number of things and it can happen to anybody at any age. The primary causes of hip pain while walking or running can be anything from arthritis, recent injuries or nerve and alignment issues. Knowing the location of the pain, along with other symptoms and your health history, can help your doctor diagnose the cause and prescribe the right treatments. Before we learn how to treat hip pain, let’s first get to know the different possible causes.
Causes of hip pain
Arthritis is a common reason for having hip pain when walking. According to a study at the University of Wisconsin, more than 14 percent of people aged 60 years or older reported serious hip pain. Hip pain in older adults while walking is commonly associated with arthritis in or around the hip joint. The type of arthritis that affects the hip is osteoarthritis, wherein the cartilage that cushions your joints wears away, causing friction, damage to the bones and inflammation.
If you suddenly, instead of gradually, experience pain in your hip joints, you may have recently experienced injury or trauma in the hip area. Injuries or damage to the hip and connecting areas, such as the knee, can cause inflammation in the bones, ligaments or tendons of the hip joint that leads to serious pain.
Sometimes, hip pain can be caused by poor conditions of the muscles or tendons. One such condition is called “bursitis”. Bursitis affects bursae, which are sacs of liquid found between tissues such as bone, muscles and tendons. The bursae help ease the friction from these tissues when they run against each other. Overworking the hips or doing repetitive activities can cause inflammation to the bursae in the hip joints, which leads to pain.
Bone-related conditions can also be the cause of hip pain. Finally, hip pain may be caused by a fractured or dislocated hip. More serious causes could be bone cancers or leukemia.
When to see a doctor
For light cases, hip pain can be treated at home with some simple home remedies. However, if you are experiencing extreme pain that doesn’t seem to improve after two weeks of regularly taking painkillers, you should see your doctor. These are other symptoms and scenarios which require for you to seek serious medical attention:
- Severe pain after a fall or after injuring your hip
- Worsening pain
- Difficulty with daily activities, such as walking, going up stairs or leaning forwards when sitting
- Feeling feverish or sick, or losing weight.
Diagnosing hip problems
If your hip pain hasn’t improved after two weeks, you should see your doctor. It is recommended that you take notes about your condition before you go so you can discuss with your doctor the exact details of the symptoms. Your doctor may ask about your pain and what movements make it feel worse. They’ll ask how the pain started, how they affect your daily activities and whether you’re in pain even as you sleep.
They’ll examine your hip by testing how well it moves. You may also be recommended to undergo further tests to diagnose other conditions. Tests and scans for hip pain include:
- Patrick test (or the FABER test) and impingement test – In these physical exams, your doctor will move your leg around the hip joint to locate the issue.
- X-ray – These scans check for fractures or damage to the bone.
- MRI scan – This imaging scan checks for damage or injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
- Ultrasound scan – This scan is used to check your joints and tendons.
Treatment for hip pain
Doctors may recommend physical therapy to help you with treating hip pain. Physical therapy may include exercises to help strengthen your hip and knee joints and to improve core strength in your back and abdomen.
The following exercises will help keep your hip joint balanced when walking and running:
- Hip exercises like clamshells and bridges
- Hamstring and quadricep exercises
- Low-impact or full-body exercises to strengthen your core muscles
Your doctor may also recommend the following treatment options for hip pain:
- Over-the-counter and prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
- Pain relief creams or ointments
- Warm or cold compresses
- Knee brace or shoe insoles (orthotics)
- Topical numbing cream
- Losing excess weight
- Muscle relaxants
- Steroid injections
- Prescription pain or steroid medication
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Moving with a cane or crutches
Make sure to discuss these options with your healthcare provider so they can assist you in finding out the best treatments that are available for your case.
Tips for managing hip pain
To manage the pain on your own after or while seeking treatment, you can make a few changes in your lifestyle. The things you wear, for example, may affect your body movements and cause more pain. Wear comfortable shoes that give your feet even support, and wear loose, comfortable clothing, especially around your waist and legs. If you have a history of knee or feet problems, wear a knee brace or shoe insoles.
Avoid walking or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time. If you need to stand up as you work, you can put a rubber mat (sometimes called an “anti-fatigue mat”) on your work area. Also, try raising your desk or workspace to avoid slouching over it when working. It would also help if you keep water in an insulated bottle and your lunch close to your workspace so you won’t have to walk so much.
Ask colleagues and family members to get items you need whenever possible. Limit walking up and down stairs. Keep everything you need on one floor if possible. Sit on a cushion or foam base, instead of sitting on a hard surface like a wooden chair or bench, but avoid sitting on something too soft like a sofa or bed. A somewhat firm surface that allows you to sink into it slightly will support the hips better. When sitting, observe proper posture to help balance out the pressure on your hips.
Got a question, or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!