If you are one of the many Americans living with chronic hip pain, you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), one of every two Americans has a musculoskeletal disorder of some kind. These disorders can be very painful and make it difficult to get through the day.
Most people take simple movements for granted until those movements begin to hurt. Over time, the pain can become progressively worse, making daily tasks hard to manage. You may even find yourself relying on others to help you get around and get things done.
Help Is Available
Fortunately, today’s advanced technology offers several options to help people living with chronic pain. Even so, many people put off talking to a doctor.
Sometimes they believe that if they wait, the pain may get better on its own. Others worry that nothing will help, that the pain is a natural part of aging.
Chronic hip pain is NOT normal, and you should NOT ignore it.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may want to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist.
- Pain during activities or daily tasks
- Pain in the groin, thigh, or hip area
- Limited range of motion in the hip
- Stiffness in the joint, hip, or leg
- A limp while walking
- Needing to lean on others to walk or stand
An orthopedic specialist is a surgeon who specializes in the skeleton, joints, tendons, and ligaments. You may also hear these specialists referred to as orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons. Their primary focus is on the bones and joints that help people move and stay active.
If your primary provider suspects a hip injury or disease, they will likely refer you to an orthopedist, a specialist who has the necessary training and experience to diagnose and treat the problem.
During your appointment, your orthopedist will examine you and ask about the cause, duration, and intensity of your hip pain. Be sure to explain all of your symptoms and mention any past injuries.
The orthopedist may then order x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, or blood tests to help make the correct diagnosis.
Once they have identified the source of the problem, your orthopedist will work with you to create a treatment plan to manage your pain.
Hip Pain Relief from an Orthopedist
There are many reasons why a person might experience hip pain. Your orthopedist will determine your course of treatment based on your specific situation. Whether your pain is new or ongoing, there is a solution. Your orthopedist will help you find it.
Pain management options may include:
- Physical therapy (PT) - Working with a trained PT can help regain strength in weak areas to balance out the body.
- Lifestyle changes - In some cases, a patient may need to lose weight, exercise, or change a habit that may be contributing to the pain.
- Exercise – Patients who live a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk of injury if muscles weaken due to lack of use.
- Medication - Pain can sometimes be managed using anti-inflammatories and pain medications. These can be either prescribed or over-the-counter.
- Surgery – Sometimes, the problem warrants the removal and replacement of bones and joints.
- Walking aids - Walkers, crutches, and in some cases, prosthetics, may be needed to restore mobility and independence for people with hip pain.
In some situations, the pain may be brought on by a minor injury. Your orthopedist may be able to manage your hip pain with prescription anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Sometimes hip pain can be caused by improper posture or gait while walking. If this is your situation, your orthopedist may refer you to a physical therapist to help you regain proper alignment.
Other causes of hip pain may be more extreme and require surgery. These severe problems are more common in adults over 50.
Surgery may also be necessary after a trauma, such as a car accident or athletic injury.
Below is a list of the most common orthopedic procedures and how each surgery can relieve hip pain.
If the cause of your hip pain is not immediately apparent, your orthopedist may order arthroplasty to take a look inside the hip. During this minimally invasive surgery, the orthopedist will be able to see all structures of the joint through small incisions.
If the cause of your hip pain is due to arthritis or deteriorating cartilage, this procedure will show it.
Hip Replacement Surgery
If you are no longer able to participate in your usual activities, you may need a hip replacement. When daily tasks become too painful to manage, and other treatment options are ineffective, your doctor might suggest a complete replacement.
Hip replacement is an invasive procedure which is often followed by physical therapy and pain management.
Many people who undergo hip replacement surgery report a noticeable reduction in pain and better range of motion after their recovery period.
Hip Resurfacing Surgery
While this surgery is similar to hip replacement, resurfacing allows you to keep most of your bone. In this procedure, the surgeon will cap off the femoral head and line the socket. This can help relieve hip pain associated with bone-on-bone grinding.
People under the age of 60 are the best candidates for resurfacing.
Only an orthopedist can determine whether your hip pain warrants physical therapy, pain medication or hip replacement. Waiting too long to talk to your doctor could cause the problem to worsen over time. If you address the problem early with the help of an orthopedist, you may only need minimally invasive treatment.
There is no reason to deal with chronic hip pain on your own. If you or someone you know needs help, contact us today.
West Suburban Medical Center has orthopedic specialists available to answer your questions and help you get back to your healthy, active life.