The hip is one of the body’s key joints, taking on the wear and tear of everyday motion, impact, and strains as we walk and move around. It’s the body’s largest ball and socket joint, providing a great range of movement for running and jumping.
Naturally over time these hip joints can start to function less well, and you might start experiencing discomfort or pain. Hip problems can affect people in many different ways, and you should always speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing issues, but these are some of the common early signs of hip problems.
Pain in the hip could be temporary or it could be a sign of something chronic. Temporary pain can sometimes be caused by inflammation of the tendons and muscles attached to the hip bone, known as tendinitis. This is often just from overuse such as excessive exercise, and can usually be treated with rest.
Chronic pain is most often caused by osteoarthritis in the hip bones, a condition that can’t be cured but can be treated to manage discomfort. This usually involves lifestyle changes such as increased exercise or weight loss, medication, or physical therapy. A hip replacement or other surgery is normally only considered if other treatments haven’t helped.
Hip pain is often accompanied by stiffness and reduced mobility, making it harder to get around and perform everyday tasks. As well as causing pain, arthritis is a common cause of reduced hip mobility as the cartilage that cushions the joint breaks down and it stops working correctly.
If you have trouble bending down to pick things up or put on your shoes, this could be a sign of stiffness in the hip, especially if it’s more on one side than the other. You should also take note if hip pain is preventing you from walking distances you’re normally fine with
Exercise is great for keeping your joints in good working order, but too much can have the opposite effect. Excessive exercise can cause wear and tear on the joint, speeding up the degradation of cartilage, and high impact exercise can put too much strain on the muscles and ligaments.
Inflamed ligaments in the thigh can also lead to hip pain, sometimes brought on by excessive running, though this can usually be remedied with rest. Hip pain can also be a result of a ham string injury, a common problem for athletes and runners
When should I seek medical attention?
Sometimes hip pain will go away on its own after a period of resting at home, but if you’re still experiencing pain after a week you should see your GP. You should also see your doctor if the pain is accompanied by a rash or fever.
If you have hip pain directly after a fall or accident, you should go straight to hospital as this is likely to be a fracture. You should also go to hospital if the hip pain is accompanied by a high temperature and you feel ill.
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