The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. It is made up of the head of the femur (ball) and acetabulum (socket) – see figure 1. The hip joint is very stable and is surrounded by muscles, ligaments and tendons.A muscle is a band or a bundle of fibrous tissue that has the ability to contract producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body. A tendon is a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone. A ligament is a short band of tough, flexible fibrous connective tissue which connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint.
Facts about hip pain
Hip pain often results from a simple strain or sprain. Strains are caused by injuries to muscles or tendons and sprains are caused by injuries to ligaments.Such ‘soft tissue injuries’ may be caused by a specific injury or may gradually build up over time. Soft tissue injuries are particularly common around the outside of the hip Trochanteric pain syndrome. Sometimes catching can develop within the groin as a result of a piece of cartilage catching or the edge of the femoral head butting up against the acetabulum, this is known as hip impingement. As the hip ages, it may develop osteoarthritis which may cause pain and stiffness. Most hip pain has a simple cause and clears up within a few days although may last a few weeks.Even more persistent problems can usually be self-managed successfully.
What can I do to help myself to get better?
PRICE Therapy: Minor injuries such as mild sprains and strains, particularly around the outside of the hip, can often be initially treated successfully at home using a protection, rest and ice regime for the first two or three days after onset:
- Protection – protect the affected area from further injury; for example, by using a support and avoiding painful activities.
- Rest – rest the leg for two or three days only. Resting the leg for a short time may help the discomfort settle but resting beyond two to three days will lead to muscle weakness which will not be helpful in the longer term.
- Ice – apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours. A bag of frozen peas, or similar, will work well. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid it directly touching your skin and causing an ice burn.
Getting the balance right between rest and activity
If your hip pain has come on gradually and activity seems to make it worse, try to change the way you do things or do slightly less initially, perhaps for a few days. The aim however should be to slowly build up to your previous level of activity after a short period of rest. If exercise does not flair the pain or only mildly increases you symptoms, it is best to try and stay active.
Some exercisescan be useful to ease pain and help your hip to move better. If your pain increases when exercising, take regular breaks or consider not doing them at all. When your hippain is better, do keep exercising to stay strong and mobile. These simple exercises may be helpful ARUK hip pain exercises
Painkillers:Over the counter painkillers may be helpful, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or creams that you can buy at the chemist. Your pharmacist will be able to give you expert advice.
The Right Track Programme run by Possability People in Brighton provide tailored support and guidance to local people who would like to be more physically active. To find out more about the programme and talk to a Community Link Specialist, please contact: Donna@possabilitypeople.org.uk
When should I see my doctor?
Painusually gets better on its own or with self-help treatments. However, see your doctor/ GP
- After a sudden traumatic injury such as a fall onto a hard surface or a sudden twisting injury.
- If the pain is severe or hip/leg is very swollen
- If you have tingling or numbness in the leg
- If you develop acute hip pain at the same time as feeling unwell and possibly developing a fever, it is possible you may have developed and infection of the joint, so you should see your doctor straight away.
Here are some leaflets to help you manage your condition, these have been reviewed and approved by our clinical staff to be the best information for patients.
If you have a diagnosis which does not have a leaflet above, then please contact our clinical support team on 0300 303 8063 and they will work with our clinical team to find you some more information.