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Got Hip Pain?

Hip Pain
A guide to signs, symptoms, treatment, and prevention in adults. Hip pain can be caused by a number of different reasons from traumatic injuries, overuse, and underlying conditions like arthritis.

Muscular Injury
A common cause of hip pain in adults is muscular weakness, strains, and overuse, especially in the hip flexor, groin, and lower abdominal muscles.  Hip flexor strain usually cause pain in the front of the hip and thigh, sometimes up into the lower abdominal region. These happen when you overstretch or tear the muscles responsible for lifting your leg and bending the waist.  Cyclists, runners, and soccer players are often burdened with these injuries.

Groin strains cause pain in the inside (medial) portion of the thigh, and can be very mild to severe.  These occur when you overstretch or tear the muscles on the inside of the thigh, called adductors.

Lower abdominal strains are sometimes mistaken for hip flexor strains because the pain can be in the same location.  However, the treatment for all of these injuries is very similar.

Treatment:

  • RICE Method:                  
    • Rest the injured area.
    • Ice the injury for 20 minutes at a time.  Do not apply the ice directly to the skin.
    • Compress the injured area with a wrap.  Do not pull tightly, as this can cut off circulation.
    • Elevate the injured area above the heart.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Gentle stretching

These injuries can be prevented by warming up before exercise, and cooling down after exercise.  For cyclists, making sure the seat is at an appropriate height can help reduce these muscular injuries.

Sciatica
Sciatica is pain in the lower back that radiates down through the buttocks, hip, and lower extremities.  There can be several underlying reasons for sciatic nerve pain, including disc herniation, arthritis of the spine, and spinal stenosis.  A primary care physician, sports medicine specialist, or an orthopedic physician can determine if your pain is deriving from the sciatic nerve.   Sciatic nerve pain can happen with activity or when at rest, and can sometimes cause numbness and paresthesia (pins and needles sensation).  Treatment for sciatic nerve pain typically depends on the underlying cause but can include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and ice.

Arthritis
Arthritis in the hip is most common in people 50+ years of age, but it can occur in the younger population as well.  Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the hips wear down over time.  People with arthritis may complain of joint stiffness, cracking, swelling, tenderness, and sometimes deformities in the joint.  Arthritis is diagnosed after an x-ray shows degeneration of the cartilage in the joint.

Treatment can include physical therapy, weight loss, ice, heat, medications, and joint replacement.  Although treatment can help, arthritis in the joint cannot be cured.

Hernia
A hernia occurs when an organ pushes and bulges through the opening that normally holds it in place, such as the muscle or tissue.  The most common place for a hernia to happen is in the stomach or intestines.  A person with a hernia may have a bulge, swelling, or dull pain in the lower abdomen or groin.  Sometimes, however, a hernia can be asymptomatic.  A hernia can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a lower abdominal strain.  However, if the pain persists and does not seem to go away, call your physician to help rule out a hernia.  In some cases, a hernia may need to be surgically repaired.

If you think you have one of these conditions, please reach out to your local SSM Health Sports Medicine Outreach Liaison at 833-776-7767. They will be able to help you navigate the healthcare system and ensure you are aligned with the most appropriate healthcare provider.

Written by: Emma Coleman, MBA, ATC, SSM Health Sports Medicine Outreach Liaison

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer.
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