Most people expect to have some aches and pains as they age. Hip pain is one of the most common complaints among older adults. In fact, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 4 women are at risk for hip osteoarthritis, according to the CDC. If hip pain is affecting your daily life, it’s important to know that there are treatment options that will help you stay mobile.
Many conditions can lead to hip pain, and the pain’s location can determine its cause. Problems with the joint itself tend to exhibit pain on the inside of the hip or in the groin area. Pain on the outside of the hip usually points to problems with soft tissue.
The majority of hip pain in adults age 65+ is the result of osteoarthritis, or the wearing down of cartilage in the joint. Pain in the groin and front of the thigh that is felt when walking or twisting are the most common symptoms.
Keep a log of your hip pain to help your doctor properly diagnose it. Include the following:
- Pain description, including whether you’re experiencing tenderness, swelling, aching or a burning sensation
- When the pain started and how long it has persisted
- When it feels better or worse and what activities or movement aggravate it
After assessing your symptoms, your doctor will conduct a thorough exam and x-ray to properly diagnose your hip pain and help you make a treatment decision.
Hip pain due to arthritis can be treated with conservative measures like rest, activity modification and weight loss. Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, can help to relieve hip pain. Steroid injections can also reduce inflammation for a short period of time. While these measures can relieve the pain, they won’t reverse damage from arthritis.
When pain is constant and arthritis is more advanced, hip replacement surgery can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life. Over 200,000 total hip replacements are performed each year and this number is projected to increase as we continue to remain active and live longer. A hip replacement consists of removing damaged cartilage from the hip socket and the ball at the upper end of the thigh bone and replacing it with prosthetics. There are several variations to this procedure; however, the results are consistently excellent. Today’s artificial hips can last for decades, so you may never need surgery again.
Recovering From Hip Surgery
The healthier you are, the faster your rehabilitation and recovery are likely to be. Patients can place full weight on their new hip immediately after surgery, and physical therapy can assist with gait training and strengthening exercises. Most patients walk normally, without a cane, four to six weeks after surgery.
If you’re experiencing hip pain, talk to a hip specialist about your case and treatment options. Maintaining your mobility is important to your long-term health. Addressing and treating your pain now can improve your quality of life and help you live a more active lifestyle.
Dr. Obinna Adigweme is an orthopedic surgeon specialized in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of hip and knee pain. Learn more at ucfhealth.com.