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How do I know if my hip pain is serious?

By The Health News Team | January 17, 2023
Woman experiencing hip and back pain

Hip pain is common and can range from a mild annoyance to pain so severe it interferes with everyday life. While the cause may be temporary, such as pressure from pregnancy or injury from exercise, hip pain can also be chronic and a normal result of aging.

When living with hip pain, many people wonder if — and when — it’s time to seek medical attention. If your pain is new and low-grade, it may be appropriate to wait a few days, while resting and using over-the-counter pain relief medications. Yet if the pain continues or worsens, or fails to respond to at-home treatment, it’s a good idea to reach out to your primary care doctor.

“You don’t need to live with hip pain,” says Dr. Harbinder Chadha, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. “If your pain is persisting, ask yourself important questions, such as whether it is interfering with everyday activities, if it is keeping you from sleeping or if it is impacting you emotionally. If yes, talk to your doctor about what could be causing it and how to get relief.”

A common culprit for hip pain
The hip has one of the largest weight-bearing ball-and-socket joints. As we get older, arthritis can cause the hip joint to become inflamed. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions that can cause:

  • Pain

  • Stiffness

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Decreased range of motion

The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage on the surface of the hip joint undergoes wear and tear, resulting in painful bone-on-bone contact.

There are several ways to treat osteoarthritis. Upon evaluation, your doctor may suggest nonsurgical options, such as weight loss, changes in activity or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Many people don’t realize that simple life changes can make a big difference when it comes to hip pain,” says Dr. Chadha. “Exercising, eating healthy foods and focusing on weight loss can go a long way. Yet when these changes — or in-office treatments — don’t help, surgery can be life-changing for those facing chronic pain.”

Surgery for hip pain
Total hip replacement, also referred to as total hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure where both the ball and the socket of the hip joint are replaced by implants. The implants eliminate the bone-on-bone contact and reduce the pain associated with it.

“Patients who undergo hip replacement surgery get so many aspects of their active life back,” says Dr. Chadha. “Typical recovery means unassisted walking in 7 to 14 days, driving in 2 to 4 weeks and a feeling of a completely ‘normal hip’ in 6 to 12 months.”

Through Sharp’s Joint Endeavor Program, care coordination for hip replacement surgery starts long before the surgery itself. A care team looks at every step of the process, from preoperative tests to discharge needs.

After surgery, a member of the team assists with range of motion, mobility and flexibility. Physical therapy sessions, which begin no later than four hours from the end of surgery, help prepare for home exercise, safe bed-to-chair transfer and general retraining for the brain and body.

“Hip replacement surgery has advanced significantly over the years,” says Dr. Chadha. “Through technology we help patients start new. And through the Joint Endeavor Program, we can ensure that recovering from surgery is as fast and supported as possible.”

Learn more about advanced treatment for hip pain at one of our upcoming webinars:

Learn more and register today by calling 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277).

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