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What Is Hip Pain?

The hip is the ball-and-socket joint where the pelvis and leg (femur) meet. Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments join bones (or cartilages) together. Hip pain refers to pain affecting this whole area.

What Causes Hip Pain?

The many causes include injuries, fractures, tumors, or diseases, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, that affect the hip joint. Inflammation is another cause. It can affect tendons (tendinitis) and the thin, fluidfilled sac (bursa) that protects the joint (bursitis). Problems in sacroiliac joints or low back can also cause hip pain.

What Are the Symptoms of Hip Pain?

Symptoms depend on the cause. Osteoarthritis may cause mild pain only with activity. Sudden injuries, fractures, and tumors may cause severe pain when trying to walk, make the hip look deformed, and cause bruising in the hip area.

How Is Hip Pain Diagnosed?

The health care provider makes a diagnosis by taking a medical history and doing a physical examination. X-rays of the joint may also be done. The health care provider may also order blood tests to see whether the pain is caused by diseases with similar symptoms. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done if the health care provider needs a clearer picture of the bones and structures around them.

How Is Hip Pain Treated?

Treatment depends on the cause. If the cause is osteoarthritis, the health care provider may prescribe acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID). If the cause is bursitis or tendinitis, the health care provider may prescribe an NSAID, suggest physical therapy, or do both. Physical therapy usually consists of using deep heat, ultrasound, or both. For severe bursitis, the doctor may inject a steroid-containing medicine (a strong antiinflammatory drug) into the bursa.

More serious causes of hip pain such as a fracture or severe degenerative joint disease may need surgery.

DOs and DON’Ts in Managing Hip Pain:

  • DO take your medicines as prescribed.
  • DO call your health care provider if you have side effects from medicines.
  • DO ask your health care provider which over-the-counter pain medicines you may take with your prescription drugs.
  • DO your prescribed hip exercises daily.
  • DO call your health care provider if medicine and other treatments don’t help the pain.
  • DO call your health care provider if you need a referral to a physical therapist for exercise.
  • DON’T wait for a medicine side effect to go away on its own.
  • DON’T continue an exercise program that causes persistent pain. Pain after exercise usually means that the exercise has to be changed.
  • DON’Tcross your legs. This position can make your hip pain worse.

Contact the following sources:

  • Arthritis Foundation
    Tel: (800) 283-7800
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    Tel: (847) 823-7186

Copyright © 2016 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.

Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor