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Alternative Names Return to topPain - hip
Definition Return to topHip pain involves any pain in or around the hip joint.
Considerations Return to top
Hip-related pain is not always felt directly over the hip. Instead, you may feel it in the middle of your thigh or in your groin. Similarly, pain you feel in the hip may actually reflect a problem in your back, rather than your hip itself.
See: Low back pain
Causes Return to top
Two possible causes of hip pain are fractures and insufficient blood flow to the hip (aseptic necrosis).
A hip fracture can change the quality of your life significantly. Fewer than 50% of those with a hip fracture return to their former level of activity. In addition, while recovering from a hip fracture, several possible complications can be life-threatening. These include pneumonia and a blood clot in the leg, which can dislodge and travel to cause a clot in the lungs. Both are due to immobility following a hip fracture and hip surgery.
Hip fractures become more common as people age because falls are more likely and bones become less dense. People with osteoporosis can get a fracture from simple, everyday activities, not just a dramatic fall or injury.
Aseptic necrosis can happen if you have been on steroids for a long time or you have sickle cell anemia. Injury and regular use of alcohol also increase your risk.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a type of aseptic necrosis that happens in children.
Other possible causes of hip pain include:
Home Care Return to top
A hip fracture is considered a medical emergency. Therefore, if suspected, you should be seen right away.
As the pain improves, gradually begin to exercise. It is best to work with a physical therapist to learn proper exercises and how to advance your activity. Swimming may be a good option because it stretches the muscles and builds good muscle tone without straining your hip joint. However, swimming does not build bone mass. When you are ready (a physical therapist can help determine that), slowly and carefully resume walking or another activity against the resistance of gravity.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Go to a hospital or call 911 if:
Call your doctor if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination, with careful attention to your hips, thighs, back, and gait.
To help diagnose the cause of the problem, your doctor will ask medical history questions, such as:
X-rays of the hip may be necessary.
Your doctor may tell you to take a higher dose of over-the-counter medication, or give you a prescription anti-inflammatory medication.
Surgical repair or hip replacement may be recommended for aseptic necrosis. Hip replacement is necessary for hip fracture and severe arthritis. With current technology, an artificial hip should last at least 10 to 15 years. Expect recovery from surgery to take at least 6 weeks.
Complications can occur from surgery. A blood clot in the leg is the most common complication, which can lead to a blood clot in the lungs.
Prevention Return to top
References Return to top
Wong TK, Lee RY. Effects of low back pain on the relationship between the movements of the lumbar spine and hip. Hum Mov Sci. 2004; 23(1): 21-34.
Dohnke B, Knauper B, Muller-Fahrnow W. Perceived self-efficacy gained from, and health effects of, a rehabilitation program after hip joint replacement. Arthritis Rheum. 2005; 53(4): 585-592.
Tak E, Staats P, Van Hespen A, Hopman-Rock M. The effects of an exercise program for older adults with osteoarthritis of the hip. J Rheumatol. 2005; 32(6): 1106-1113.Update Date: 7/25/2007 Updated by: Andrew L. Chen, M.D., M.S., Orthopedist, The Alpine Clinic, Littleton, NH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.