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Hip Pain

Pain in the “hip” region can include pain in the upper thigh, groin, buttock, the side of the hip, and sometimes even the lower back. Your hip joint acts like a ball and socket, allowing your leg to move forward, backward, and to both sides. The hip also twists inward and outward, allowing your leg to rotate.

The bones associated with your hip include:

Many muscles attach via tendons above and below the hip, allowing the joint to create movement of your leg. These movements and muscles include:

The varied movement of the hip requires assistance from a variety of other structures. Strong connective tissue provides stability and flexibility in the joint. Blood vessels in the region ensure there is always an adequate blood supply for movement. Nerves communicate signals that allow for your desired movement to occur. A small fluid sack called a bursa is located at the upper, outer tip of the femur, providing cushion and protection of the joint, tendons and ligaments from irritation or damage.

With so many complex structures working together to ensure proper function for your hip, there are many ways in which an injury can occur. If any of these structures wear out or sustain damage, you may experience pain.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

There are many potential causes of hip pain, both chronic and acute. A proper diagnosis is crucial to ensuring you receive the most effective treatment for your condition.

One-Time Injuries

In some instances, your hip pain may be caused by an injury associated with a one-time event. These include:

  • Fractures – A sudden blow to the pelvis or femur may cause a break at the joint. This most commonly occurs in vehicle accidents and serious falls. Elderly patients are especially susceptible to hip fractures with falls.
  • Dislocations – A dislocated hip occurs when the femur gets knocked out of its socket. This injury also occurs with vehicle accidents and serious falls. It can be dislocated forward or backward, and the surrounding ligaments and muscles can be damaged with this type of injury.
    • Posterior dislocation: This is the most common type of dislocation at the hip joint. The femur (thigh bone) is pushed backward out of the socket. Typically, the leg will be in a fixed position of rotation inward to the middle of the body.
    • Anterior dislocation: The femur is pushed forward out of the hip socket, and the leg will be rotated away from the body
  • Sprains and strains – Stretched or torn ligaments or muscles result in a sprain. These injuries occur when you place too much pressure on your muscles and ligaments, which is common when lifting heavy objects, participating in sports, or with a dislocation as described above.

Wear-and-Tear Injuries

Repetitive motions can result in significant wear and tear to your hip. These injuries often occur in work environments or from athletic activities, and they can be quite painful. Common examples of repetitive motion injuries include:

  • Bursitis – The bursa providing cushioning to your hip can fill with fluid and become swollen from repetitive movements, causing redness and sensitivity. It can also be damaged from trauma to the hip joint. This causes pain at the outside of the leg-hip junction.
  • Tendonitis – The tendons in your hip can become damaged from overuse, causing painful inflammation in the tendon. The most common is hip flexor tendonitis, often seen in runners, causing pain with flexion and extension of the leg.
  • Cartilage damage – The most common type of cartilage damage in the hip involves the labrum. This cartilage acts as a cushion, allowing smooth movement between the femur and the acetabulum. This can cause pain in the hip and the groin.

Nerve Injuries

Damage to nerves in the hip are uncommon, however, nerve compression in the low back can present as pain in the hip area:

  • Nerve Pain – This issue is usually caused by nerve compression. It is often associated with numbness, tingling, or burning sensations along the buttock and can extend down to the leg and foot. In severe cases, you may experience weakness of the leg.
  • Piriformis Syndrome – This issue is associated with a congenital anatomical anomaly where the sciatic nerve traverses through the fibers of the piriformis muscle instead of behind them. This can irritate the nerve and cause pain in the buttocks and hips and even into the leg on the affected side. A spasm of the piriformis muscle can itself cause buttock and hip pain.

Arthritis

Arthritis can develop from inflammation of the hip joint, causing pain and stiffness which gets worse over time. The most common types of arthritis impacting the hip include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – This occurs when your immune system attacks your hip joint, causing swelling and pain.
  • Osteoarthritis – This develops when the cartilage in your hip breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. Osteoarthritis results in pain and stiffness.
    • Femoroacetabular Joint – This occurs at the junction of the femur with the acetabulum when the cartilage surrounding the femur deteriorates. It can cause pain at the side of the hip as well as in the groin.
    • Sacroiliac Joint – This occurs at the junction of the sacrum with the pelvis. It can cause pai
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Treatment for Hip Pain

At the Denver Spine and Pain Institute, we recommend conservative treatments whenever possible. Depending on the specific cause of your hip pain, your treatment may include:

If these conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, surgery may be necessary. Our team will perform all appropriate diagnostic testing prior to your surgical consultation to determine the precise cause and location of your pain. These diagnostic tests will provide your surgeon with the information necessary to plan your procedure.

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Restoring a Pain-Free Life

Chronic hip pain can significantly impact the quality of your life, making it hard to perform routine daily tasks and participate in your favorite activities. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with this pain any longer. At the Denver Spine and Pain Institute, we offer the most advanced treatments to alleviate your hip pain, helping you enjoy life again.

We’re the only sports, back and pain specialists in the country providing a Connected Care Approach™ specifically designed to get you back to enjoying life faster. This approach involves:

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Please contact us today to schedule an appointment. The Denver Spine and Pain Institute serves patients in Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.

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