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The hip joint is the largest in the body—built to be both durable and allow for fluid movement. Serving as the connection between the legs and the torso, the hip joint plays a critical role in the body’s mobility. It is a ball and socket joint, meaning that the end of the femur bone (ball) sits within a larger indentation in the pelvis (socket), which guides its movement. With each step a person takes, the hip joint endures forces equivalent to two to three times the weight of the body. Though the hip joint is typically a very strong and stable joint, significant impact or accumulated impact overtime can cause injury. Hip injuries are fairly common, and the likelihood of sustaining a hip joint injury increases with age. Though many hip injuries can be treated with a combination of medication and physical therapies, many cases require an entire hip replacement. Approximately 332,000 Americans received hip replacements in 2010.
There are many potential causes of hip pain. If you are experiencing hip pain, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to best determine the cause of your symptoms.
According to The National Library of Medicine, the following are the most common injuries to the hip joint:
Hip pain may also be caused by existing conditions affecting joint health such as arthritis.
There are many factors that can influence your risk of developing hip pain. These include:
Diagnostic procedures for the underlying causes of knee pain vary. If you are experiencing knee pain, see a doctor. He or she will be able to conduct the proper set of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your knee pain. Tests that your doctor may conduct include:
The following tips can help you live with hip pain:
For tips on living with an artificial hip, visit The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The following tips can help you prevent hip-related injuries and pain:
The proper treatment for your hip pain depends on the specific cause of the pain. Your doctor will be able to help diagnose the cause of your pain and choose the best treatment plan available. The most common forms of treatment for hip pain are medication, physical therapy, and surgery.
Pain relief medications come in different forms and strengths. All medications have side effects, and many pain-relieving medications can be highly addictive. Speak with your doctor about what side effects you can expect from the medications you are taking.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications include:
Prescription pain relievers include:
Surgery may be necessary for patients experiencing chronic hip pain or for those who do not experience relief with other treatment methods.
In some cases, arthroplasty, or hip replacement, may be necessary. In arthroplasty, damaged or diseased areas of the hip are removed and replaced with artificial parts. Provided the surgery is successful, the artificial parts decrease pain and allow for increased mobility. The success rate for hip replacement surgery is very high, with only 3-5% of patients requiring re-operation in the first ten years after surgery. Artificial hips are also extremely durable, lasting on average thirty years before requiring replacement. In rare cases, arthroplasty can lead to infection, blood clots, and abnormal bone growth. Talk to your doctor about whether or not arthroplasty is right for you.
Physical therapy is a necessity after many surgical procedures to help regain strength and mobility of the hip. It can also help reduce pain and increase mobility for patients experiencing hip pain who have not undergone surgery.
Walking aides such as canes and walkers may be prescribed temporarily after surgery during rehabilitation periods, or as permanent aides to take weight off the hip joint and reduce pain.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CCAM), the current available evidence is not strong enough to allow definite conclusions to be reached about whether any complementary approach is effective for chronic pain. However, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that several approaches may help to manage pain. These include:
These approaches are:
If you are caring for a loved one who is experiencing hip pain, consider the following:
If feelings of pain in the hip last for several weeks and/or become disruptive to daily life, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to help diagnose the source of your pain. If you are experiencing sharp, intense hip pain, contact emergency services.
If you are taking pain medication and experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
** If you experience chest pain, call emergency services. This may be a sign of heart attack.
To find a general physician, visit www.healthgrades.com
To find an orthopedists (doctor specializing in musculoskeletal care), visit AAOS
To find a pain management specialist, visit pain.com
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
For more information on hip health, visit:
For more information on hip replacement surgery, visit:
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