The hip is one of your body’s largest joints connecting the upper body to the leg bones. Your hips enable you to perform basic movements like bending, standing, and walking, and bear your upper body’s weight. All these heavy duties leave your hips vulnerable to injuries. Two common problems are bursitis and arthritis.
Soft tissues like ligaments and tendons connect the hip joint and surrounding bones. These soft tissues are also covered by small, fluid-filled sacs known as bursae. Bursae provide added protection and cushioning to protect against friction caused by movement or force.
Hip bursitis and arthritis occur when bursae and the hip joint grow inflamed.
The principal causes of both bursitis and arthritis are time and continual, repetitive movements placing pressure on the joint and surrounding soft tissues.
Certain risk factors may increase your chances of contracting either condition, including:
- Previous Hip Injury – Injury to surrounding hip structures often weakens the hip joint and surrounding bursae.
- Leg-Length Inequality – Your risk is greater if one leg is longer than the other. This unusual occurrence impacts how you walk and could place undue stress on your hip joint and bursae.
- Previous Surgery – The scar tissue or inflammation can extend into the joint and bursae following surgery.
- Spinal Issues – Spinal diseases or injuries might impact your walking, which could result in hip joint or bursae damage.
- Family History – Your chances are greater if one or more close relatives, such as a parent, grandparent, or sibling, had either condition.
- Obesity – If you are significantly overweight or obese, your likelihood of developing hip bursitis or arthritis rises. Excess weight puts extra pressure on hip features.
- Congenital Deformities – Sometimes, an individual’s hip fails to form or grow properly. Such events may result in deformities causing injuries to the hip structures.
Hip bursitis’s main symptom is pain. This discomfort often starts at the hip’s point and extends to the thigh area. In many cases, the feeling begins as a quick burst of sharp and intense pain, gradually changing into a constant moderate ache.
The problem intensifies during the evening and when you lie on the affected hip. Discomfort may kick up after long periods of walking, standing, or engaging in hip-straining actions like climbing stairs.
Pain is also a major symptom of arthritis. Discomfort often begins as a dull ache and gradually worsens. You might also experience the following:
- Hip stiffness.
- Discomfort that spreads to other body areas such as your groin, knees, or buttocks.
- Pain that intensifies when moving or exercising.
- Hip locking or sticking.
- The sounds of grinding or crackling noises when standing or walking.
As arthritis progresses, hip discomfort tends to increase during the morning, in rainy or cold weather, and after extended periods of inactivity. Bending or walking may grow more challenging.
If not addressed as early as possible, both bursitis and arthritis could result in significant pain and mobility limitations capable of affecting your ability to perform routine functions.
Your doctor will first perform a thorough visual examination, searching for any obvious abnormalities such as redness, swelling, or deformities. You may also be asked to perform various motion tests.
If initial efforts do not yield definite findings, internal imaging tests like X-rays, CT, computerized tomography scans, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans may prove valuable. These diagnostic tools enable your doctor to see detailed pictures of your hip bones, joints, and surrounding structures.
Early treatment for both hip bursitis and arthritis is conservative and involves home care methods. Severer cases or those not responding to such therapy may need surgery.
- Lifestyle Alterations – Early-stage or uncomplicated cases often respond favorably to lifestyle changes. This includes no longer engaging in activities known to aggravate associated symptoms, participating in less strenuous sports, and simply resting the affected hip whenever possible.
- Medications – Over-the-counter pain-relieving and inflammation-reducing drugs can provide temporary relief.
- Steroid Injections – Corticosteroid injections directly into inflamed joints or bursae can relieve pain and stiffness. Corticosteroids have significant inflammation-lessening properties.
- Supportive Devices – More moderate cases adversely impacting your ability to walk may be improved supportive devices such as canes or walkers.
- Physical Therapy – If your injuries resulted in inactivity, physical therapy may prove beneficial. This treatment is overseen by physical therapists who design exercises individually tailored to help your fitness and recovery goals.
Fortunately, only the severest cases of bursitis need surgery. Corrective procedures typically involve the removal of the offending bursae. Advancements in orthopedic surgery enable doctors to perform this process arthroscopically, which is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery.
Procedures performed to treat arthritic hips include:
- Hip Resurfacing – Surgeons remove damaged bone and soft tissue at the hip joint’s upper region.
- Total Hip Replacement – Hip joints damaged beyond repair are removed and replaced with metal or plastic parts.
Surgical bursitis cases tend to respond well, and patients return to normal activities within several days.
Hip arthritis cannot be cured, but mild to moderate cases often improve following the administration of home care treatments and medications. Post-surgical recovery times often vary depending on many factors.
You may lessen your risk of developing hip bursitis by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Loosening hip muscles before exercising.
- Avoiding hip-stressing activities as much as possible.
- Seeking treatment as soon as symptoms start.
Your chances of developing an arthritic hip decrease if you consume a diet rich in inflammation-fighting nutrients like fatty acids and Vitamin D, and take part in mild but beneficial physical fitness regimens like walking or swimming.
Should you experience the symptoms of hip bursitis or arthritis, please contact Dr. Peter Howard!