Hip pain is a common ailment, particularly among older adults and active athletes. When patients come to you with this type of pain, it’s important to know what treatment approaches may work best. As with other types of injury or illness, it’s critical to understand the cause of the pain before you determine an appropriate course of action. Some of the most common causes of hip pain include:
- Lower back issues
- Muscle strain
- Inflammatory conditions
Patients with an acute injury often know the cause of an injury or are at least able to tell you when and how the injury occurred. Chronic pain may be more difficult to diagnose and may require blood tests, X-rays, or an MRI to identify the cause of the pain.
In extreme cases, hip surgery or replacement may be recommended, but often hip pain can be treated with less invasive methods.
How to Treat Hip Pain
Hip pain treatment will depend on the diagnosis, but the general approach will likely include a combination of the following methods:
Patients who are experiencing pain from an injury might benefit from a brief course of anti-inflammatory medication, while pain from conditions such as arthritis may require more targeted prescription medications. Patients with severe pain may benefit from a steroid injection in the joint to provide temporary relief.
If the cause of hip pain is related to an injury, the patient should rest for at least several days after the injury occurred. This is especially important for athletes who are eager to get back to their usual routine as a premature return to activity could prolong the recovery period. Whether a patient should rest or exercise when experiencing chronic pain is more complicated. In general, they should rest during periods when the pain is more severe, and try to do low-impact exercise and/or physical therapy when the pain is manageable in order to maintain range of motion and muscle strength.
A physical therapist can work with the patient to help restore mobility, increase strength, and improve flexibility. Which specific exercises are most beneficial depend on the cause of the pain and the patient’s condition.
If excess weight is a contributing factor to hip pain, weight loss might be included in your treatment approach. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent pain caused by too much stress on the hip joints.
While recovering from hip pain, patients might require the use of an assistive device such as a walker or cane. Relieving pressure on the hip joint can help reduce discomfort and give any damaged tissues the opportunity to properly heal.
Cold and compression treatment
Applying cold and compression is a proven method for reducing pain and inflammation. Patients can apply ice packs and use compression bandages, or preferrably, take advantage of the many benefits that a cold and compression therapy system has to offer. Because it is so difficult to successfully apply ice packs to the hip and groin area, this type of condition is ideal for the adjustable wraps used with cold and compression therapy systems.
Although hip pain can be caused by a number of things including traumatic injury and chronic disease, treatment is often similar, especially when there is inflammation in and around the joint. Reducing inflammation through medication, rest, and cold and compression treatment can accelerate the recovery process and help patients return to activity more quickly. Additional treatment methods can be applied as appropriate, but in almost all cases, reducing inflammation is a priority.
Do you have patients who are experiencing hip pain from an injury or other condition? Download our free Guide to Accelerating Hip and Groin Recovery to learn more about how to treat hip pain and speed up the healing process.