THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #42: HIP JOINT PAIN

Hip pain is a very common condition as one gets older, though it can also occur in younger people. The most common cause of hip pain is OSTEOARTHRITIS , a condition that I discussed a little more than a year ago, mainly in the context of pain in the joints of the hand:  press the search button and type in “osteoarthritis”. I think you’ll enjoy reading it, as I did upon rereading.

Large joint arthritis seems to be a different animal as compared to small joint arthritis, to which I can personally attest; I have had significant arthritis in the joints of my hand and somewhat in my feet for a long time now, while I am fortunate enough not to have any problem with my hips or knees. It may be a coincidence, but I have been taking glucosamine and chondroitin  for sometime now.

It is also of interest that I have stood without sitting down in much of my medical career, and I have continued walking for exercise 1 to 1 1/2 hours a day. This would be against the idea that it is only ordinary wear and tear on the joints that determine the loss of articular cartilage so characteristic of osteoarthritis.

Unusual wear and tear, such as in football, soccer and Long term running on a hard surface, is a different matter, however. Pain in the groin is the most characteristic location for hip-joint arthritis. Pain in the side of the hip joint may be trochanteric bursitis, and that in the buttocks area could be from the nerve root compression of sciatica. Knee pain can refer to the hip. Rheumatoid arthritis, and even rheumatic fever in younger people can also cause hip inflammation and pain.

Sports injuries and falls can cause a hip fracture or a tear in the hip labrum that can declare as pain, but here’s the problem is more about how to treat it, rather than the diagnosis. As you get older, remember to take your calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis, and maintain your muscle strength and balance to prevent falls. Please type in “falls” for a discussion on how to prevent this often devastating problem in the elderly.

The hip joint can actually get infected with a septic arthritis, which is more typical of younger individuals, and those with immune deficiency. Cancer and infection of the hip bone can also be quite painful. The hip bone can suffer a loss of arterial supply, causing avascular necrosis in the process. Adolescents can get a slipped epiphysis.

When hip pain interferes with your exercise routine and ordinary life activities, it is time to check with the doctor to see what is going on and what can be done about it. If you have not already decided upon surgery, I would suggest a family practitioner or internist as your first stop.

Please refer to the mayo clinic article for more information.

—Dr. C.

Read Mayo Clinic article

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