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Hip Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments

Updated on October 13, 2015

Hip Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments

The hip is a part of the body that constantly undergoes motion of all types. The joint is designed for swiveling, bending and stretching actions. When a person experiences pain in the hip it becomes more difficult to move and the range of motion may be affected. Understanding the causes, diagnosis process and treatments for relieving hip pain can bring hope to those who live with this condition and experience difficulty in their daily lives as a result.

Causes of hip pain
There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause hip pain. As people age, the wear and tear that has been exerted on the hip joint can cause it to weaken and become more susceptible to injury. This is particularly true for post menopausal women who have experienced a decrease in bone density. Fractures of the hip bone are another potential cause of hip pain. The development of arthritis in the hip joint can cause inflammation that leads to moderate to severe pain, particularly when certain positions are held.

Bursitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the bursae (small fluid filled sacs) that act as protection for the muscles and tendons. Wear and tear on the hip joint from repetitive movements that are vigorous or provide stress on the hip can cause this condition.
Strains of the tendons, ligaments or muscles in the hip can also lead to hip pain. Some more serious and less common causes of hip pain include dislocation or bone cancer.

How hip pain is diagnosed?
Your health care provider begins by reviewing your health history and checking for any other problems that are associated with hip pain. They will ask you questions about what type of activities you have participated in that may be related to the pain you are experiencing. A physical examination to look for any obvious signs of injury or swelling will be performed. If a diagnosis is not possible at this point, tests will be ordered to check the structural integrity of the bones and soft tissue of the hip. X-Rays and CAT scans are the most common imaging tests that are performed to help in diagnosing issues related to the hip. Once a diagnosis is made, and then your health care provider will discuss the test results, tell you more about your medical condition and what types of treatments are recommended.

Treatments for hip pain
The types of treatments that are recommended for hip pain depend upon what the cause of it is. Minor to moderate pain which is caused by strain on the muscles and tendons will generally resolve within a few weeks if rested. Hot and cold packs in addition to over the counter hip pain relief remedies are often adequate to help provide the needed relief.

When the cause is related to a disease such as arthritis or bursitis, treatment options range from anti inflammatory medications to cortisone shots within the joints to restore range of motion and reduce pain. Alternative treatments such as massage therapy, Yoga, or acupuncture may also be recommended.

When the cause of hip pain is a more serious condition such as a fracture or dislocated hip, surgical procedures may be required to make the needed repairs. For conditions in which the hip joint has experienced severe wear and tear and sustained irreparable damage, hip joint replacement may be recommended. If bone cancer is the cause of hip pain, patients are referred to oncologists who specialize in the treatment of cancerous conditions. Treatments may range from chemotherapy to radiation treatments or a combination of both.

Hip pain can have a variety of different causes. Occasionally, a muscle or tendon may become strained and need nothing more than rest and over the counter analgesics or anti-inflammatory remedies.

If the condition persists for more than two weeks, or if the pain becomes worse, it is recommended to seek medical attention for the proper diagnosis of the cause. Once the cause has been identified, recommendations are made for the most suitable forms of treatment to alleviate the pain and resolve the condition. Some more serious conditions such as cancer of the bone may require the referral to a cancer specialist for additional testing, diagnosis and treatment recommendations.


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