What is causing your hip pain?

02 October 2019

We spoke with Mr Neil Davies, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, about the common signs of hip pain and how it can be treated.

The most common complaint felt by patients is of stiffness and discomfort in the groin, aggravated by one or more of the following:

  • exercise
  • getting up from a seated position
  • going up and down stairs
  • getting in and out of cars
  • putting on shoes and socks

Pain of this nature most likely indicates hip osteoarthritis (wear and tear). This is more likely as we get older, but can affect us from our 40's onwards. Previous hip injuries, dysplasia of the hip as a child and underlying impingement in the hip can increase the rate of onset of wear and tear in the joint, so your hip becomes more painful at a younger age.

Treatment for hip arthritis starts with simple painkillers, modifying exercise and activities and a physiotherapy rehab programme – but can require a hip replacement if and when the symptoms become restrictive in day to day activities. The outcomes of hip replacement surgery are very successful for the vast majority of patients, with a full return to normal exercise and activity levels and, most importantly, with no pain.

Pain on the outside of the hip joint can indicate other problems, it can be a symptom of trochanteric bursitis (inflammation in the bursa) or tendon irritability. These are more easily treated with rest, time, physiotherapy and (occasionally) a steroid injection. They can be slow to settle and take up to 18 months to resolve.

Lastly, the lower lumbar spine can give rise to localised hip pain, even when there are no symptoms in the back. The pain can be felt in the buttock area, groin, down the outside of the hip towards the knee and occasionally further down the leg into the foot. It is often associated with stiffness in the lower back and a previous history of lower back problems. Here the treatment options depend on the extent of the problem in the back and can include physiotherapy/osteopathy/chiropractic treatment, steroid injections into the back and occasionally, surgery.

If you develop some hip pain that doesn't settle with a short course of anti-inflammatories, then it's recommended that you are reviewed by a manipulative therapist who will try and determine where your symptoms are coming from, at this stage you may need an X-Ray, ultrasound or MRI scan to confirm the exact cause of your pain. 

If your symptoms or pain still persist, then a review by a hip surgeon will enable further treatment options to be discussed.

Book in to see Mr Davies today by calling 01582 788 412, or come along to our free patient information evening on Thursday 5 December. For more information on our free evening please visit our news and events section.

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