Chances are, if you want to do anything, your hips are involved. These strong, durable joints form a fundamental part of our physical foundation, at rest and at play. They keep us stable and protected while sitting, and help control our movement during any physical activity.
Because our hips are so integral to everything we do, we depend on them to work properly and operate pain free. We may try to compensate for a sore arm, shoulder or knee, but when our hips start hurting or stop working as they should, our quality of life is immediately reduced.
And that’s just the beginning of why ensuring your hips are healthy and pain-free is so important. In addition to helping us move, our hips protect some of our most important internal organs. Part of our abdomen, bladder and reproductive organs are all housed within the pelvis, protected by our hips.
Your hip is a ball-and-socket synovial joint formed where the femur (thigh bone) meets the three bones of the pelvis: the ilium (rear), ischium (lower front) and pubis (upper front). While both the hip and the shoulder are ball-and-socket joints, the hip tends to be much more stable due to the shape of the socket and the strong connective tissue.
The femur has a ball-shaped knob at the top which fits into the Acetabulum (socket) in the hip. The head of the femur is covered by a thick layer of slippery articular cartilage that allows the bones to move in the joint without pain. A series of ligaments, tendons and muscles connecting the hip bones together keeps the bones in place and allows the hip to operate properly.
LIGAMENTS: Strong ligaments completely surround the hip joint, creating the joint capsule. These ligaments include the iliofemoral ligament, which is the strongest in the body.
MUSCLES: Muscle groups in the thigh and lower back work in concert to achieve stability and movement. These hip muscles are classified into three groups, based on location: anterior (front), posterior (rear) and medial (outer).
Injury or damage to any of these bones, ligaments or muscles can cause pain and reduce joint function or stability. While minor aches may heal on their own, if you are experiencing persistent or increasing pain, it’s likely the condition causing the pain will continue to worsen. If any of these muscle groups are weakened or damaged, the other groups are forced to carry that load. This is why injury to one area of the hip can lead to increased stress, and subsequent damage, in another area of the joint.
Hip joints can be damaged by disease, traumatic injury and wear and tear over time. Thanks to the muscles protecting and supporting our hip joints, it takes a significant amount of force to seriously damage a hip in a single incident.
Because of the force necessary to seriously damage the hip, stress over time is a much more common cause of hip pain. In fact, Osteoarthritis from overuse is one of the leading causes of hip pain and reduced function. Cartilage loss from hip Osteoarthritis increases friction and promotes joint degeneration.
Hip pain can be caused by damage to the hip itself or by referred pain radiating from another area of the body. If the issue is with the hip itself, the symptoms tend to be localized on the inside of the hip or groin. If the symptoms are located on the outside of the hip, upper thigh or outer buttock, this tends to indicate trouble with the soft tissue surrounding the joint.
Hip pain can be a persistent ache or a sharp, stabbing pain that worsens after physical activity. When you are hurting, take note of where your pain is, what you were doing and how long it hurts afterward. Answers to these questions will help Dr. Skaliy accurately diagnose the cause of your pain.
In addition to hip pain, other signs of hip disease or damage may include joint stiffening or loosening, as well as “popping” in the joint, known as crepitus.
Injuries to the hip joint can cause several different painful conditions, including: Bursitis, dislocation, fracture, hernia, tearing and tendonitis. In addition to traumatic injury, there are many factors that may lead to disease in your hip joint. Some of these include:
Degenerative Disc Disease — This progressive disease of the spine often causes pain in the hips.
Herniated Disc Disease — Spinal disc ruptures may cause inflammation or narrowing that causes pain in the lower back, hips and legs.
Osteoarthritis — A progressive, degenerative joint disease that worsens as cartilage is worn down in the hip.
Pinched Nerves — Also called Radiculopathy, this condition is characterized by nerves that have become constricted by surrounding tissue. Can cause pain, weakness and numbness.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction — Irritation or arthritis in this joint can cause pain, stiffness and loss of function in the joint, as well as lower back pain.
Sciatica — Pain in the sciatic nerve that may be felt in the back, buttocks and legs.
For minor hip pain or stiffness, a treatment protocol including rest, light stretching and over-the-counter medications may reduce pain and inflammation, allowing your hip to more freely. Be sure to read the warning on all medication and avoid even small amounts of over-the-counter medication if you have sensitivity or allergies to these drugs.
When you choose to visit our office, Dr. Skaliy will complete a patient interview and physical examination. Further diagnostics may include medical imaging (X-rays, MRI or CT scan). These tests will help Dr. Skaliy determine the location, type and severity of the issue causing your pain.
If over-the-counter pain relievers, therapy and other preliminary treatments are no longer effective, Dr. Skaliy may recommend Epidural Steroid Injections to reduce pain and inflammation in and around the joint.
In some cases, when initial treatments are no longer effective, physicians recommend surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury or damage, different surgical procedures may be recommended, from relatively minimal Arthroscopic surgery to highly-invasive Arthroplasty (total joint replacement).
Hip replacement is a highly-invasive surgery involving general anesthesia and an extended recovery time. When you consider the amount of work the hip joint does and how much we depend on our hips for everything we do, it’s important to understand a hip replacement may relieve your pain, but the new joint will not function as smoothly as healthy, natural joint. In addition to the standard risks of surgery, recovery from hip replacement includes:
Because of the potential side-effects, complications and other risks related to all surgical procedures, Dr. Skaliy recommends minimally-invasive, nonsurgical options to treat hip pain, including Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and Stem Cell Therapy.
Platelet Rich Plasma — Concentrated blood platelets, donated by the patient receiving care, are used to activate and enhance the body’s own healing ability.
Stem Cell Therapy — This minimally-invasive treatment promotes real healing and regeneration, especially in joints affected by Osteoarthritis, but it also effective against up to 65 other medical conditions.
How well does Stem Cell Therapy work to reduce hip pain? Check out this success story from our patient, Kathy:
There are many other patients, like Kathy, who have realized incredible results thanks to Stem Cell treatment.