US Pharm. 2024;49(3):15-16.

Can Happen in Anyone

The hip joint is the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint and helps with mobility and keeping upright posture and balance. It carries much of the body’s weight, so pain in the joint, muscles, tendons, or bursa can develop. Hip pain is common and can happen to anyone. The pain can come and go, and it can be short-term or long-term. Where the pain is located depends on which part of the hip joint is affected. Usually, hip pain can be managed with rest and OTC medications. However, you should see your doctor if the pain does not improve over a few days or if it prevents you from doing daily activities.

Wide Variety of Causes

Hip pain can be due to many causes. Repeated use can wear down cartilage; damage or irritate the muscles, ligaments, or tendons; or cause the bursae to become inflamed and painful. Decreased blood flow to the hip bone can cause avascular necrosis. Nerve impingement, trauma, infection, hip fractures or dislocations, and tumors can also cause pain. Hip pain in younger patients may be due to abnormal development of the hip joint. The sooner the signs and symptoms of hip problems are recognized, the sooner treatment can be started to prevent further loss of function or degeneration of the hip.

What Symptoms May I Experience?

Symptoms of hip pain depend on the cause. Hip pain is typically felt in the thigh, inside or outside the hip joint, groin, upper thigh, and buttocks. Some people may feel joint stiffness, especially after prolonged inactivity. Others may feel pain in the outer hip or buttock area from irritation of the muscles, tendons, or bursa. This pain usually is worse when sitting for a long time, going up stairs, or lying on the side of the hip injury. People may experience knee pain or have a spinal or abdominal issue that causes hip pain. You should seek immediate medical attention if the hip pain happens suddenly or after a fall or injury, if the hip joint looks deformed or is bleeding, a popping noise happens when the hip is injured, the pain is intense, you cannot put weight on the hip, or you cannot move the leg or hip.

The doctor may order blood tests to see if the cause is from an infection or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He or she may order an x-ray to look at the bones in the hip. A computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scan could be used to evaluate the joint itself or muscles and tendons, respectively.

Managing Hip Pain

Decreasing pressure, such as resting the hip, and avoiding sleeping on or bending the affected hip,  carrying heavy objects, and sitting in low chairs may help the pain. Applying heat or cold therapy to the hip for 15 minutes several times a day could decrease the inflammation or loosen the muscles. Low-impact exercises, stretching, stabilizing exercises, resistance training, and physical therapy can improve joint mobility and reduce pain. OTC pain medications such as acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen may help relieve pain from muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis. It is important to talk to the doctor before using these drugs so that he or she can make sure they are safe to take with your medical conditions or other medications. The doctor might recommend a steroid injection if the pain is from inflammation. Hip pain due to RA may require different prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. If the pain is severe or the hip joint is deformed, the doctor may recommend hip surgery or replacement.

Is Hip Pain Preventable?

It is important to wear comfortable, cushioned shoes and avoid standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces. Use proper tools and equipment to reach for things. Remove clutter that you could trip on or use a cane or walker if you have difficulty walking or have a higher risk of falling. Wear appropriate protective equipment with physical activity, allow for rest and recovery, and stretch and warm up before and after exercising. Avoid high-impact exercises on hard surfaces, and stop the activity if you feel pain.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.