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5 Common Causes of Chronic Hip Pain

5 Common Causes of Chronic Hip Pain

It doesn’t take a biology expert to know that the hip joints are a crucial part of your anatomy. These massive joints connect your upper and lower body, allowing them to work together to help you move. 

Unfortunately, they aren’t invincible. Hard work, disease, and even congenital deformities can affect how well your hips operate. 

Here, our team of board-certified surgeons and sports medicine experts at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group take a closer look at five of the most common causes of hip pain and what we can do to help. 

#1 Arthritis

Topping our hip pain list is arthritis. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the one most likely to impact your hips is osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). It occurs when years of use and stress wear down the protective cartilage in your joint and allow bone to rub against bone. The result is pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased mobility in your hip.  

Because your hips bear much of your body weight and most of the force from your movements, it’s no wonder they’re among the first of your joints to wear down. 

#2 Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition that refers to inflammation in the bursae of your joints. Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that, along with cartilage, reduce friction in and around your larger joints. 

There are two major bursae in your hip: One covers the bony point of your hip bone, and the other is located in the groin side of your hip.  

You can get hip bursitis in several ways, including the following:

Spine diseases, such as scoliosis that throw your body out of alignment, can affect how you distribute weight in your hips and lead to bursitis.

#3 Tendonitis

Your hip is powerful because it has an impressive network of muscles and connective tissues. Unfortunately, those connective tissues, like your tendons, are just as likely to wear down as the joint itself is. 

And that’s when a condition we call tendonitis sets in. 

Hip tendonitis stems from inflammation in the tendons in your hip joint, namely those of your hip flexor muscles, which help you lift up your leg. Usually, hip tendonitis results from overworking your muscles without adequate rest to allow them to heal.

Repeated stress causes microtears in your muscle and tendon fibers. If they can’t heal properly, pain and inflammation develop. 

#4 Labral tear

Labral tears involve the labrum, a cartilage ring near the outside rim of the hip joint socket. In addition to cushioning your joint, the labrum acts as a rubber seal, keeping the ball portion of your joint securely in place. 

You’re most at risk for a labral tear if you play a sport that requires fast movements, changes of direction, and/or stress on your hips, including ice hockey, soccer, football, golf, and ballet.

You may know you’ve torn your labrum if your hip pain is accompanied by a locking, clicking, or catching sensation in your hip. You may also experience stiffness or a limited range of motion. 

Untreated labral tears can ultimately turn into arthritis in your joint, so don’t wait to have your symptoms checked out. 

#5 Impingement

Hip impingement occurs when the head of your femur (the ball) pinches up unnaturally against the acetabulum (the socket). When this happens, your hip stiffens up and becomes painful. 

There are two main types of hip impingement. The first stems from a deformity of your femur, which causes the ball to have a more oval than round appearance. This abnormal shape creates friction when it hits the edge of the socket. 

The second type of impingement occurs when the socket is shaped abnormally. As a result, it covers the ball too much and creates friction. Though most have one or the other, it’s possible to have a combination of both types. 

Hip deformities are usually congenital, but it’s possible to develop them later in life. Those most at risk include children who start playing sports that require twisting and squatting.  

The treatment

There are a few ways to treat hip pain, starting with a thorough review of your symptoms and health history. Because hip pain is so complicated, we perform a detailed physical exam and often order imaging tests to understand exactly what’s behind your pain. 

Once we reach our diagnosis, we create a customized treatment plan. We typically begin with conservative, nonsurgical methods, including activity and lifestyle modification, exercises, heat and cold therapy, medications, injections, and walking aids.

If the damage in your joint is severe or doesn’t respond to more conservative treatment, hip surgery, which could be minimally-invasive arthroscopic hip surgery or hip replacement surgery, may be the best course of action. 

Don’t spend another day wondering why your hip is hurting. Call or click to schedule an appointment, and get answers and a game plan today. 

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