Common Causes of Hip Pain and Disability

Hip pain can affect us all, regardless of our age. There are many reasons we can develop hip pain, but certain ones tend to be more common in the younger population and others in the older. Muscle strains are probably the most common source of hip pain and often occur during a sport. They typically heal with time, rest and ice and can be prevented through proper warm-up and training. However, a physical therapist may be needed for a full recovery and to help prevent it from happening again. Another increasingly common source of hip pain in younger individuals is femoroacetabular impingement or FAI. FAI occurs due to excess buildup of bone in the hip which pinches the labrum around the hip socket and hip cartilage with certain movements. If left untreated, it can lead to labral tears and progressive arthritis. Conservative care through physical therapy can be very effective in alleviating the discomfort and improving function. Recent research has shown that FAI can develop in youth that plays the same sport year-round, so a preventative measure could be involved in different sports which would change the repetitive forces going through the joint.

Hip pain in older individuals is most commonly from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis develops over time and can lead to increasing disability and often a total hip replacement if left untreated. A sign of osteoarthritis is increased pain and stiffness in the morning that gets better in about 30 to 60 minutes as you get moving around.  Skilled physical therapy is often successful at decreasing pain associated with arthritis and improving quality of life. A good rule of thumb with any osteoarthritis is to keep moving, because “motion is lotion.”  Conservative care should always be attempted first because it is not invasive, low risk and a person can only get a limited number of hip replacements in their lifetime.

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