The hip joint is formed by the hip bone and the thigh bone (femur), which is longest and thickest bone of the human body. In this ball-and-socket joint, the head of the thigh bone (femur) fits into the acetabulum (cup-shaped articular cavity) of the pelvis. Hyaline cartilage covers the femoral head and the acetabulum, thereby preventing friction between them. A layer of cartilage also surrounds the outer portion of the acetabulum. The hip joint is an important weight-bearing joint of the body that allows us to run, walk, and jump.
Pain from the hip can radiate to the thigh or groin region, and it could occur if the muscles tendons, and ligaments that support the joint get adversely affected due to an injury or degenerative joint problem. Severe hip pain at night can lead to disturbed sleep or sleeplessness, which is why it is advisable to seek medical help. Once the underlying cause of the pain is determined, steps can be taken to alleviate it.
Hip pain could be caused due to a wide range of reasons, which include:
Osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative arthritis, is an age-related degenerative condition that occurs when the tough elastic tissue (cartilage) that covers the ends of the bones wears down. As a result, bones start rubbing against each other, which in turn leads to inflammation, pain, tenderness, stiffness, reduced range of motion of the joint, increased risk of bone spurs, etc. People above the age of fifty, especially those with a family history of osteoarthritis are at an increased risk of developing this condition. Obesity is also a risk factor for this condition. Hip arthritis could also occur if there's repeated strain to the hip joint. People affected by this condition are likely to experience pain around the hip joint. Pain could be experienced in and around the groin, thigh, buttocks, or the knee. The pain could be stabbing and sharp. Sometimes, affected individuals experience a dull ache. The pain is likely to increase when pressure is put on the hip joint.
Hip pain could also be caused by a condition called trochanteric bursitis. This condition occurs when a fluid-filled sac (bursa) present at the greater trochanter (lateral projection present at the proximal end of the thigh bone) becomes inflamed. Injury to the affected area, repeated stress or an overuse injury, anatomical abnormality, poor posture, etc., are some of the contributing factors for this condition. This condition gives rise to symptoms such as pain on the outer side of the hip, pain while lying down on the affected side, pain on applying pressure on the affected area, etc.
Osteonecrosis is characterized by the death of the bone tissue. For the bones to remain healthy, the living cells that make up the bones need a steady supply of oxygenated blood. When the bones of the hip joint don't receive sufficient amounts of blood, the bone cells could get destroyed. Bones might break down at a faster rate than the rate at which the body makes new bone. This can give rise to hip pain. With time, the intensity of the pain might increase, and the range of the motion of the joint would get restricted.
Snapping Hip Syndrome
Snapping hip syndrome refers to snapping or popping sensation that might be experienced with certain movements (rotation of the hip, flexion or extension of the legs). The clicking or popping sensation occurs when a muscle or tendon in the hip moves over a bony prominence. Tightness in the muscles and tendons surrounding the hip could be a contributing factor. This condition may or may not be painful. Pain could be felt, if it is accompanied by hip bursitis (inflammation of bursae).
Osteoporosis is a condition that is characterized by loss of bone tissue due to changes in bone density. This condition could make one susceptible to fractures. Stress fractures could affect those who engage in heavy duty physical activities. Sportsmen who participate and train vigorously for competitions may face the problem due to stress fractures.
Apart from the above mentioned causes, the following conditions could also cause pain in and around the hip:
- Poor sleeping posture
- Hip dislocation due to injuries and accidents
Following symptoms could accompany pain in the hip joint:
- Pain immediately after stretching or twisting the hip
- Back pain and sweating at night along with a sudden fever
- Limping to overcome the opposition, while making movements
- Pain from sciatica which reaches the front of the hip
If hip pain is adversely affecting the quality of your life, it is advisable to seek medical help. Physical exams, blood tests, X-rays of the hips, and computerized tomography (CT) scans can help identify the underlying cause of pain. It is possible to alleviate the pain by methods such as ice and heat application, proper stretching, physical therapy, and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. It is important that you eat good nutritious food and exercise well to strengthen your bones. Keeping a tab on your weight is also advised.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.