Many people accept hip pain as an inevitable result of aging. While it’s true that older individuals are more prone to developing hip pain, issues with the hip can occur at any age. Here are some of the most common causes of hip pain and options for treatment.
Hip Pain Causes
Hip bursitis occurs when the bursae that cushion muscles, tendons, and bone become inflamed. This usually occurs when the hip is placed under repetitive strain or extended beyond its normal range of motion. Like bursae, the tendons of the hip can also become inflamed, resulting in hip tendinitis.
Under extreme stress, the labrum can tear. Athletes who perform explosive and/or twisting movements are more prone to this type of hip injury.
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of hip pain in older individuals. Chronic inflammation of the hip joint wears away the cartilage cushioning the hip bones, causing them to rub together. This type of pain usually worsens over time and is often accompanied by stiffness and limited mobility. The two most common types of hip arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Older individuals are also more prone to hip fractures due to weakened bones.
Muscle strain often occurs from overexercising. This can cause pain, weakness, and instability in the hip.
Hip Pain Relief
If your hip pain stems from tendinitis, osteoarthritis, or muscle/tendon strain, you may experience relief with acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These are over-the-counter pain relievers and do not require a prescription.
For hip pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids and biologics. These medications change the way your immune system responds, helping reduce pain and inflammation.
Cold and heat can also help relieve hip pain. Apply ice to the pain site in 15-minute intervals two to four times a day to help reduce inflammation and swelling. Soaking in a warm bath or taking a hot shower can help relax the hip muscles. Adding Epsom salts to your bath may aid in recovery.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of hip pain. Calcium and vitamin D in particular can help preserve bone strength.
Hip Pain Exercises
Low-impact exercises can help prevent and reduce pain in the hip and surrounding areas. Flexibility exercises such as yoga, pilates, and targeted stretching can improve mobility and reduce the risk of labral tears. Resistance training such as cycling, swimming, and walking on an incline are generally safe ways to build strength and stability in the hip.
You can also strengthen the muscles supporting the hip with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, knee raises, and resistance band exercises. Weight-bearing exercise also strengthens the bones of the hip, reducing the risk of fracture.
Adequate warm-up, stretching, and rest can help prevent and reduce muscle pain in and around the hips. If limited hip mobility prevents you from exercising, a physical therapist can design a program tailored to your needs.
Hip Pain Treatment
Staying active and taking the proper precautions can help prevent and reduce hip pain. However, pain stemming from hip fractures and severe injury require medical attention. Call your doctor immediately if you experience severe hip pain or weakness, bleeding, popping of the hip joint, or immobility.