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The First Steps to Dealing with Hip Pain

Your hips are instrumental in just about any movement you make. You use them when you sit, stand, walk, and lie down. Many people struggle with hip pain and with figuring out the underlying cause.

Dr. James Lee Jr., here at Orange Orthopaedic, has a few things he wants you to know about hip pain, what might be to blame, and how to decide when you need to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

What causes hip pain?

Determining why you're having hip pain can take some time and testing. Two of the most common reasons are osteoarthritis (OA), commonly called arthritis, and sciatica.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 30 million adults in the United States suffer from OA. It causes the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones to break down, and the underlying bone to weaken. OA gets worse over time, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling, and decreasing your mobility and flexibility.  

Another common cause of pain in your hips is sciatica. This condition happens when the sciatic nerve grows irritated and causes moderate to severe pain in your buttocks, legs, and back. It can also create sensations of numbness and weakness.

Other causes of hip pain include injury, bursitis, dislocation, and fractures.

Help for your hip pain

Pain is a protective mechanism. It’s your body’s way of telling your brain that you need to slow down and protect a specific body part or area. When you have pain in your hips, the first step is to recognize the pain and try one or more of these strategies to minimize the discomfort.

Cool with ice

Ice may or may not work, depending on the underlying cause of the pain and how deep into your body it reaches. However, ice won’t hurt, and it can ease the pain caused by bursitis because it’s close to your skin’s surface. Try using ice four or five times each day for up to 15 minutes every time. Be sure to protect your skin with a light towel or clothing.

Keep moving

Pain can make you want to stop moving, but the healthiest activity for hip pain is movement. If you injured your hip doing a new exercise routine or activity, refrain from those movements, of course, but don’t stop moving altogether. Choose a low-impact program that includes stretching, range of motion, and balance exercises.

Heat up the joint

A hot shower or warm bath can loosen the muscles and soothe aching joints. Like with ice, this won’t always help, depending on the reason you’re experiencing the pain. For example, bursitis might feel better after ice, but heat can actually make the pain worse.

Lose a few pounds

Arthritis develops from the wear and tear on your joints. The more weight you’re carrying around, the harder it will be for your bones to be healthy. Losing even a few pounds can decrease the pressure on your joints and relieve hip pain.

Listen to your body

Resolving hip pain requires that you listen to your body during all activities. If you try one of these strategies and it makes the pain worse, stop using that method for pain relief. If you’re having a day with a higher amount of pain than usual, listen to your body and rest more or take the day off from your light exercise routine.

Schedule a consultation

If your pain persists — or even worsens — even though you’re using these home remedies, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee. He will meet with you to discuss your pain, gather information about your health history, and create a customized plan to get to the bottom of your hip pain.

To diagnose the reason you’re having hip pain, Dr. Lee might order diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI exam, or ultrasound. Once he knows the diagnosis, you get a treatment plan that’s best for you. This plan might include physical therapy, a home exercise program, medications, or surgery.

If you’re ready to get an individualized plan to decrease your hip pain, give our West Orange office a call. You can also book online through our website to reserve your consultation today.

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