What Causes Hip Pain?

In our previous blog post, we explored the anatomy and function of the hips. But what happens if your hips are injured and hurting?

While hip pain can be common, it is often a sign of injury of a more severe condition—and should not be taken lightly. Whipping your hips back into shape requires the right kind of treatment, care and exercise.

1. Hip osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear damage, is the most common affliction to befall patients with hip pain. As the hip has to withstand loads of pressure from the rest of the body, it is especially prone to osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis in the hips occur when the cartilage surrounding the “ball” of the femur and the “socket” of the pelvis starts to erode, causing the bones to rub against each other directly. This produces friction and acute pain and causes tendons that connect the joint to surrounding muscles to deteriorate.

The condition manifests itself as:

  • Popping and cracking in the joint
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Grating movement
  • Pain and stiffness

As osteoarthritis is more severe, seeking help from a professional, such as a chiropractor, is necessary—the earlier, the better. To supplement professional treatment, one way to manage hip osteoarthritis is to swim regularly. Water supports the body, relieving your hips of pain-inducing pressure; the activity itself conditions and strengthens the surrounding muscles to provide extra support for your weakened hips.

Osteoarthritis can occur in any weight-bearing joint in the body, including the hips.

2. Hip impingement (Femoral acetabular impingement- FAI)

It is theorised that physical stress placed on the ball and socket joint of the hip during development may play a key role in the onset of FAI. This causes friction during hip movement, resulting in damage within the hip joint.

As it is rarely painful in its early stages, FAI commonly goes unrecognised for years. People with FAI usually have pain in the groin, although sometimes it may be located further on the outside of the hip. Patients may experience sharp, stabbing pain with turning, twisting and squatting; sometimes, they may only feel a dull ache.

Femoral Acetabular Impingement leads to early degeneration of the hip, limiting normal hip range-of-motion. (Source: https://www.topdoctors.co.uk/medical-articles/hip-pain-how-do-you-know-if-you-have-a-labral-tear

If left untreated or insufficiently cared for, FAI can lead to early degeneration of the hip. Hence, patients should see a healthcare professional at a younger age: they can help determine any need of non-surgical or surgical treatment to ensure proper hip development in children and teenagers. A chiropractor can help reduce local inflammation, improve biomechanics, improve hip and pelvis flexibility and provide advice on specific lifestyle modifications to avoid deterioration.

3. Hip fractures

Hip fractures are common in those with weakened bones, such as seniors or patients with osteoporosis. They can occur after a serious injury, such as a bad fall, and often cause extremely sudden, severe pain. Hip fractures are a medical emergency—seek immediate medical attention to prevent blood clotting and other complications.

The best way to recover from a hip fracture is to work with a chiropractor on a gradual treatment plan. Your chiropractor may recommend postoperative exercises such as bed-supported knee bends and abduction exercises to encourage blood flow and reduce clotting. In the more advanced stages of convalescence, you may be recommended exercises such as stair climbing and descending, as well as walking, to help you regain strength and mobility in your hips.

4. Osteoporosis

The onset of osteoporosis often begins in late adulthood or the elderly years, but can occur in any age group. Osteoporosis is characterised by incredibly weak and brittle bones, caused by the inability of the body to keep up with the loss of old bone by making enough new bone in time. The ability to replace bone loss slows down with age and hence osteoporosis is more prevalent among the older crowd.

Osteoporosis may be hereditary and partially sex-linked—women are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Those with irregular hormone levels, such as too much thyroid hormone or decreased estrogen levels in menopausal women, are also at increased risk.

While these physiological and biological risk factors are unchangeable, there are many other ways to manage or reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. A healthy diet is key to supplying the nutrients needed to regenerate and strengthen bone. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dark green leafy vegetables, cod liver oil and salmon, are key bone building blocks. Gentle weight-bearing exercises such as brisk walking and posture-and-balance exercises such as heel raises promote bone growth, strengthening weakened hips.

If you have osteoarthritis and are aged above 65 years old, fall prevention education is crucial in preventing bone fractures or breakage—which can be paralysing.

5. Bursitis

Your hip bones are dotted with jelly-like sacs called bursa that reduce friction between the bones and surrounding soft tissues. Two important bursa are located on the hips: one is found on the inner part of the hip near the groin, while the other is found on the outer, bony part of the hip.

When these bursa become inflamed, a sharp and intense pain shoots through the affected part of the hip and radiates through the entire hip as an ache afterwards. This is worsened when sleeping or pressing on the affected area. Other symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Redness or swelling

As with the more severe conditions covered above, professional treatment is needed to treat bursitis by correcting the kinematic chain. With guidance from a chiropractor, you may be advised to apply cold packs to the area to reduce swelling within the first 48 hours, take a warm bath or engage in a short period of bed rest to avoid worsening inflammation. Stretching is also a key part of the recovery process, albeit exercises and postural, functional and gait training should be specific to your needs; a typical regimen may consist of hip rotator stretches and leg raises on your side.

Conclusion

We would like to end off on a small but important note on body pain.

Throughout this article, we discussed how different types of pain in the hips may be indicative of various hip conditions, such as with hip bursitis. However, it is crucial to remember that the various parts of our musculoskeletal system are very closely interlinked. This means that hip conditions may be signalled by pain in other parts of the body; conversely, hip pain may also point to conditions in other parts of the body. For example, hip pain can be a sign of lower back or pelvis dysfunction due to incorrect biomechanics and disruptions of nerve supply.

Bearing this in mind, hip pain is not always as straightforward as it seems. Any hip pain should be assessed by a professional to root out its true cause, and treatments should always be tailored to your needs to prevent further injury. Working with a chiropractor is ideal as chiropractors are qualified to assess and assist with bone and muscle strengthening. The best chiropractors in Singapore would, ideally, offer you the most suitable chiropractic treatments to restore the proper joint biomechanics and the function of your nervous system, and work closely with you on a recovery plan with some tailored stretching, strengthening and rehabilitation program.

If you have non-emergency hip pain and would like to seek professional help to manage your condition and get to the root cause, schedule an appointment with us by calling us at 62084669 or

dropping us an email wecare@mychirocare.sg!