The hip joint is a large, ball-and-socket joint where the femur (large leg bone) meets the acetabulum formed by the pelvis. Muscles and ligaments support the joint, and fluid is produced within the joint, allowing for ease of motion and cushioning.
This joint is prone to wearing and tearing (osteoarthritis) as is any other joint in the body and is particularly painful as the joint is used while walking, running, standing and sitting. Osteoarthritis is a result of chronic degeneration of the joint, usually in the elderly, but may be brought on sooner by excessive weight, past history of trauma to the joint, or through old sports injuries.
Hip pain is typically felt in the groin area with any movement of the hip. The patient may feel a cracking or popping feeling with movement of the hip, decrease in the range of motion of the hip, and pain with activity. Patients typically describe the pain as achy, sharp, stiff and gnawing, with pain increasing with increase in activity.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joint. It can occur in any joint, and the hip is particularly susceptible. Chronic wear and tear is the culprit and certain risk factors may hasten the occurrence and severity.
Treatment for hip osteoarthritis may include a referral to a pain management specialist. At the JLR Center for Pain Medicine, you and your physician will design a customized treatment plan for you. This care plan will depend on your specific symptoms and examination.
On the initial visit, a thorough history and physical exam will be performed. Early treatment focuses on confirmation of the diagnosis and the initiation of a treatment plan to alleviate pain. Confirmatory imaging such as x-rays and MRIs may be ordered.
Your treatment plan may involve some lifestyle modifications, physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the hip, addition of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories if your medical history allows, and topical creams and patches.
If pain is not improved with some of these modifications, you and your pain management physician may discuss injection therapy. Injection therapy usually consists of injecting local anesthetic and steroids directly into the joint under x-ray guidance. The injection allows diagnostic information regarding the cause of your pain and can also provide sustained relief. If the pain relief experienced from injection of the medication into the joint is short-lived, and hip replacement surgery is not the right option for you at this time, cooled radiofrequency denervation may be an option. Referral to an orthopedic surgeon may also be an option.