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Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic hip pain. Hip pain may also occur from overuse injuries in which muscles, tendons, and ligaments can become inflamed. These injuries may be due to routine daily activities or one specific event.

Topics below cover two common areas of hip problems.

Arthritic Hip

Arthritis is a term that is used to describe over 100 different conditions that can affect the human body. There are millions of Americans who are affected by arthritis each year. Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of motion in affected joints.

There are three types of arthritis that generally affect the hip; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteonecrosis.

  • Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results in the wearing out of the cartilage that protects the bones in the joints. Once cartilage is damaged or destroyed, cartilage cannot repair or replace itself like many other body tissues. Hip cartilage can be compared to the tread of an automobile tire, very durable but susceptible to wear over time. As we age, the tread surface slowly erodes until the underlying bone is exposed. This exposed bone can be painful when the joint moves and bears weight.

Often the cause of arthritis is unknown, but may develop as a result of injury to the joint, excess body weight, or years of wear and tear on the joint cartilage. There is no known cure. The best that doctors can do for patients is to restore motion and reduce pain.

Picture of Causes of Hip Pain

Common symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip

  • Severe hip pain that limits everyday activity
  • Pain in the groin
  • Hip pain at night causing sleeplessness
  • Chronic swelling of the hip with morning stiffness
  • Grinding pain during movement
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory condition of the joint lining, or synovium where the body’s immunological system attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation of the joint lining and subsequent joint damage. When rheumatoid arthritis is present, the cartilage is not being provided with enough lubrication and nourishment. This leads to loss of motion, stiffness and pain in the hip.
  • Osteonecrosis, also called avascular necrosis (AVN), is a disease that results from lack of blood supply to the bone. It affects the femoral head (the ball at the top of the thighbone) most commonly. As a result of AVN, the bone receives an inadequate blood supply and eventually dies.

Osteonecrosis is most common in people ages 20 to 50 years. It generally results from fracture, dislocation, or another disease process. AVN is typically associated with traumatic injury, such as falling down, excessive alcohol consumption, and steroid use. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include intermittent aching and pain, which can become more severe over time and limit your movement and activity level.

Hip Injuries

There are many different types of hip injuries; however, there are a few that are more common than others. Common types of hip injuries include tendonitis, bursitis, contusions and sprains. These conditions can cause hip pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon or area surrounding the tendon. There are many tendons located around the hip that connect the muscles to the joint. These tendons become stressed and overworked due to various activities or overuse injuries and cause pain and tenderness around the hip region.

Symptoms include an inability move comfortably, pain while resting or sleeping at night, difficulty bending your hips, and hip swelling.

  • Bursitis is a painful inflammation in your body’s joints usually caused by overuse or repetitive stress on your hip. There are more than 150 bursae (small, fluid-filled sacs) in your body that lubricate and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. When inflammation of the bursa occurs (bursitis), movement or pressure becomes painful.

Symptoms include a dull ache or stiffness, swollen or warm to the touch, redness in the area of the inflamed bursa, and an increase of pain with movement or pressure.

  • Contusions (bruises) & sprains may occur as a result of trauma. Even though there is no broken bone, these injuries can still be very painful. Sprains are due to ligament injuries. Strains occur because of damage to muscles and tendons. Because of the amount of force required to walk or jump, the hip joint is required to support many times the weight of the body. The muscles, bursas, and ligaments are designed to shield the joint from these forces. When these structures are inflamed, the hip cannot function and pain will occur.
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