What Causes Hip Pain?
The source of hip pain can be as diverse as the types of patients affected by hip problems. Orthopedic hip specialists at Baylor Scott & White Arlington see painful hip conditions in children, adults, and the elderly.
Hip pain can be related to slow-moving degenerative disease or infections, or the condition may develop after a sudden fall, sports injury, or car accident. In every case, orthopedic hip pain can turn walking, running, or even just sitting, into very painful activities.
The structure of the hip shows why it can cause so many problems when there is disease or injury. The pelvis and the thighbone (femur) come together to form the largest joint in the body. The rounded top of the femur fits into the concave socket on the underside of the pelvis, attached by the femoral neck, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles.
Arthritis Wears Away Hip Joints
One of the most common and highly debilitating hip conditions treated by orthopedic surgeons is arthritis. Degeneration of articular cartilage at the hip joint is known as osteoarthritis. As the hip grinds in its ball-and-socket joint, pain and stiffness begin to increase. The discomfort is often felt most strongly in the morning with pain in the thigh, groin, or buttock areas. Boney overgrowth (bone spurs) may develop as cartilage breaks down. This results
in bone-on-bone friction as you move.
A variety of factors may contribute to developing osteoarthritis of the hip. Causes may include normal aging, heredity, old hip injury, obesity, or deformity of the hip at birth (developmental dislocation hip dysplasia).
Other types of hip-related arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis – an immune disorder causing chronic joint inflammation – as well as juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (inflamed spine), Lyme disease, lupus, gout, psoriatic arthritis, osteonecrosis, Paget’s disease, sciatica, and polymyalgia rheumatica.
Another degenerative hip condition known as bursitis affects the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the hip joint. The bursae provide padding between the pelvis, thighbone, and various soft tissues around the hip. If something irritates the bursa, you may experience sharp pain in the groin or at the point of the hip bone. Hip bursitis pain may be worse at night, when getting up from a seated position, or with long periods of walking, squatting or climbing stairs. Treatments can be either nonsurgical therapies and medication, or arthroscopic hip surgery to remove the bursa.
Disorders of the hip that may cause pain and mobility problems also include:
- Hamstring injury
- Muscle strain
- Torn ligaments
- Compressed nerves (burning thigh pain)
- Stretched tendons (snapping hip)
- Abnormal growth patterns (Femoroacetabular impingement)
- Dislocated hip
- Blocked blood supply (Perthes disease)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Hip Fractures Limit Mobility
A broken hip can be caused by a sports injury, car accident, a fall, or other trauma. Bones weakened by osteoporosis can increase the risk of hip fracture. Suffering from a broken hip also may lead to blood clots, muscle weakness, or pneumonia. Failure to manage hip pain has been linked to complications like sleep disorders, depression and delirium.
Hip fractures can occur in a variety of locations in and around the hip joint. For example, the most common breaks in the hip are seen in the upper thighbone (femoral shaft fracture) or in the ball at the top of the femur. Severe pain will immediately limit the amount of weight you can place on the broken hip, and the leg may appear shortened or misaligned.
A comprehensive examination by an orthopedic doctor using digital imaging equipment will show where the break occurred and whether it is a straight, angled, spiraling, complex, or open fracture. Each type of break calls for unique orthopedic care by the hip specialist.
A femur break at the neck of the thighbone and the lesser trochanter muscle attachment is called an intertrochanteric fracture. This type of hip fracture can be corrected by the orthopedic surgeon installing an intramedullary nail or a compression hip screw for stability. Another type of hip fracture impacts the actual hip joint socket, causing an acetabular fracture.
Hip surgery is often recommended, sometimes on an emergency basis, for hip fractures. External fixation of the broken hip may be done temporarily until the fracture can be repaired.
A broken pelvis also requires immediate treatment by an orthopedic hip or spine specialist. Some pelvis fractures can be treated conservatively, but others may require orthopedic reconstruction.
If simple fixation does not correct the hip joint damage, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend some form of hip replacement. Several variations on the procedure are available, depending on individual needs of the patient and details of the hip condition. Consult your hip specialist at Baylor Scott & White Arlington to discuss the pros and cons of each hip surgery.
To find a qualified, experienced hip specialist, contact the team of physicians at Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital – Arlington. Call 855-41-ORTHO to make an appointment with an orthopedic hip surgeon in a convenient local facility using the latest orthopedic care techniques.