Hip pain: symptoms, causes and treatment
Updated: January 2020
Located at the connection between the pelvis and the femur (thigh bone), the hip is one of the biggest joints in the body. It is made up of many different parts (e.g. tendons, muscles and ligaments), which means that the pain has just as many potential causes, especially since the hip is heavily used in simple everyday movements such as walking. Hip pain can therefore become extremely disabling.
Symptoms of hip pain: how to identify them
Whether mechanical (stopping at rest) or inflammatory (persistent pain), diffuse or localised, hip pain can be accompanied by various symptoms: a pinching sensation, stiffness, restricted movement, difficulty walking, or pain that radiates down to your knee, groin or buttock, for example. These symptoms depend on the cause of the pain, which is just as likely to come from the joint itself as it is to indicate a problem elsewhere in your body.
Causes of hip pain
Hip pain can have a number of causes. It may be due to a problem with your joints (arthritis is the most common cause for this kind of pain in the over-50s), your bones (as with fractures in the neck of the femur, or bone cancer, for example), or muscles (as with tendinitis). Hip pain may also be caused by sciatica, a serious injury, or a malformation.
Treating hip pain
If you have hip pain, you will usually be advised to take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs in the first instance. It is important not to force your hip joint. If you have inflammatory pain, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or cortisone injections. If the pain persists or is caused by advanced inflammatory arthritis, surgical hip replacement may be an option to consider. You may also be prescribed a course of physiotherapy or osteopathy, or low-impact physical exercise such as walking or aquagym, which helps to strengthen the muscles and prevent joint stiffness. Finally, there are some other, drug-free methods of treating pain, such as the OMRON HeatTens range of pain relievers, which combine soothing heat with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).
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