How to Tell If You Have a Hip Joint Problem


Hip joint pain can be sudden and short-lived, or chronic and debilitating. Many factors can contribute to hip joint pain, including age, physical activity, general health and recent injury. Joint pain may not exhibit in the hip itself, but may radiate to the pelvis, buttocks or the upper thigh. To understand what is causing your hip pain and what you should do about it, you should take time to do a self-assessment of what has been going on in your life that might be causing the hip pain.

Things You'll Need

  • X-ray
  • MRI

How to Tell If You Have a Hip Joint Problem

Consider your recent activities. Hip pain can come on suddenly and be caused by some of the most common of activities. If you engage in sports on weekends, it may be that you have overworked a muscle that isn’t used very often. Always do warm-up exercises to stretch out muscles, and if you have pain after activities, apply ice and rest the muscle. If young children have kept you more active than usual, it may cause hip pain. If you have been on a long car trip, it can cause hip pain from being in one position for too long. These temporary strains can be treated successfully with over-the-counter pain medications, ice or heat.

Assess your general health. Do you have the flu or a virus? The flu can cause intense joint pain, but it usually only lasts a few days and improves with pain relievers. Are you overweight? Excess weight can put additional stress on joints. You may want to consider discussing an effective diet with your physician. Are you diabetic? Diabetes can cause nerve disorders that can cause pain in joints and extremities. Discuss the problem with your doctor. A pinched nerve can also cause hip pain. Make sure your posture is not causing the problem and that your work chair is comfortable.

Get an X-ray of the affected hip. If you are suffering from chronic hip pain, your doctor will be able to tell from an X-ray if the pain is due to osteoarthritis, an injury or some other condition of the bone. He may suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or a cortisone injection for pain due to arthritis. If there is a fracture of the hip, the doctor may suggest surgery to insert pins, screws or plates to secure the broken pieces of bone while they heal. If osteoarthritis or injury has seriously damaged the bones, your doctor may suggest hip replacement surgery.

Find out more from an MRI. An MRI will tell your doctor if there is a problem with the muscles or soft tissue surrounding the hip bone. If the muscles surrounding the hip can be strengthened through physical therapy and exercise, surgery may be avoided.

Tips & Warnings

  • Orthopedists are doctors who specialize in the treatment of diseases and conditions of the bones and joints, including the hip.

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