What Are the Symptoms of a Hip Disorder?
The hip is a complicated joint made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments, muscle, and a lubricating fluid. As a result, the symptoms of a hip disorder will differ depending on the cause of the disorder and the particular component of the hip joint that is causing problems. Common symptoms of a hip disorder include:
- pain in the hip
- reduced movement in the hip joint
- referred pain (may be felt in the leg)
- muscle stiffness
- pain in the leg affected when you apply weight on that leg
People with arthritis may experience pain and pain when walking. If you have fallen or had an accident involving your leg and you develop swelling or pain in your hip, seek medical attention immediately. These are signs that a fracture may be present. An untreated fracture can cause serious complications.
These are some of the conditions that are most likely to cause hip pain:
- ARTHRITIS: Arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are among the most common causes of hip pain, especially in older adults. Arthritis leads to inflammation of the hip joint and the breakdown of the cartilage that normally cushions your hip bones. The pain gradually gets worse as the arthritis progresses. People with arthritis also feel stiffness and have reduced range of motion in the hip.
- HIP FRACTURES: Fractures of the hip are a particular problem in elderly people. With age, the bones can become weak and brittle. Weakened bones are more likely to fracture during a fall.
- BURSITIS: Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that protect muscles and tendons is usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint.
- TENDINITIS: Tendons are the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons. It's usually caused by repetitive stress from overuse.
- MUSCLE LIGAMENT OR TENDON STRAIN SPRAIN: Repeated activities can put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the hips. When these structures become inflamed from overuse, they can cause pain and prevent the hip from functioning normally.
- CANCERS: Tumors that start in the bone (bone cancer) or that spread to the bone can cause pain in the hips, as well as in other bones of the body.
- AVASCULAR NECROSIS: This condition occurs when blood flow to the hip bone is reduced and the bone tissue dies as a result. Although it can affect other bones, avascular necrosis most often occurs in the hip. It can be caused by a hip fracture or dislocation, or from the long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone), among other causes.
So Pain in the hip can come directly from the hip joint itself or it may be experienced in the hip joint as a referred pain from a problem somewhere else. Referred pain is pain that travels along a nerve that comes from the back. The referred sensation of pain is felt in an area where the nerve travels or ends, but not necessarily from the point of the back where the nerve is being pinched. On the other hand, pain that comes directly from the hip joint can be from inflammation due to injury (Sprains, strains, and fractures), arthritis, infection, or in rarer cases, malignancy (cancer.)
One example of referred hip pain is a pinched nerve at the level between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae. Pinching of this nerve commonly causes referred pain into the hip. The hip joint will ache or burn or may even experience sharp pain; however, the joint itself should not be overly tender to touch or swollen. Because the pain signal originates in the back, bending the spine to one side may relieve the pain while bending the spine to place more pressure on the nerve may worsen it.
True hip pain (pain from the hip joint itself) can be caused from an acute (usually accident related) or a chronic (usually arthritis related) condition. The treatment goal for an acute hip injury is first to control and reduce the swelling. After the swelling is controlled, the next phase is to help restore the mobility and return the proper function of the hip joint and leg. The goal of treatment of a chronic hip condition is to try and determine what caused the hip joint to become symptomatic, relieve or eliminate that cause, and rehabilitate the hip joint.
A Doctor of Chiropractic has the training and equipment needed to help determine if your hip pain is coming from a pinched nerve in your spine or directly from the hip joint, itself. For more information on referred pain caused by pinched nerves, please see this article: About Pinched Nerves.
Acute hip injuries can be initially difficult to treat as the actual hip joint resides a few inches beneath the level of the skin. This makes it difficult to ice the area well enough to control swelling. Care must be taken not to extend the use of ice past twenty minutes to avoid the consequences of ice injury (frostbite.) Proper elevation of the area (elevating the joint above the level of the heart) is also a bit of a challenge. For instance, the use of a recliner is usually ineffective since a recliner will not allow the hip to be elevated above heart level. A better choice for elevation is bed rest by lying on the opposite of the hip injury.
Passive hip range of motion can also be very beneficial to reduce swelling. The application of passive motion is only to be done with an appropriate device or administered by a trained professional. Ask your chiropractor about the use of passive motion to help reduce swelling.
Chronic hip pain requires proper history, examination, and diagnosis to determine a course of treatment. A chiropractor can perform these procedures and will recommend a suitable treatment program for your condition. Your chiropractor may also outline goals and recommend changes in lifestyle to help reduce the chances of a re-injury and to better manage your present complaint.
Adjustive procedures can be made to a hip joint and other therapies such as short-wave diathermy and microwave (two methods to deliver moist heat into deep tissue, and massage can be used to help improve the hip joint. Stretching and exercises can also be added at the appropriate time to protect against future re-injury. Nutritional supplements may also be recommended. For instances, a proper uptake of calcium needs to be obtained by many senior citizens, especially women. Several spontaneous hip fractures could be avoided if bone density checks were checked during routine examines in the forth or fifth decade of life.
Hip problems whether acute or chronic can both benefit from supportive care. Proper exercise, stretching, nutrition, and support can all aid in your recovery and enhance your functionality. The goal is to stay active but not create pain in the joint. Pain generally goes hand in hand with swelling and swelling leads to bone loss in the joint (osteoporosis) create calcium deposits around the tendons and joint (tendonitis and arthritis) and reduces mobility. Your chiropractor will work with you with a number of recommendations to help you maintain mobility while minimizing joint irritation.