The number of total hip replacements surgeries is continuing to grow for people under the age of 65, according to a report by Becker’s Orthopedic Review. As more and more people become at risk for total hip replacements, it is important to consider your hip health.
Nathan Stocco, a physician assistant at DMOS Orthopaedic Centers, provides some information about the hip, common injuries and how to maintain healthy hips.
How does the hip joint work?
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that helps your legs move during your day to day activities. The femoral head (or top of your thigh bone) acts as a ball that rotates in your hip socket (otherwise called your acetabulum). Your femur, pelvis and abdominal core muscles all work together to allow your hip joint to move.
What are the most common hip injuries?
Stocco sees a variety of injuries related to the hip caused by trauma and overuse. Below are some of the more common conditions.
- Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis and typically affects people over the age of 50. This occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints begins to break down causing pain, stiffness as well as swelling and pain.
- Avascular Necrosis is a condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood to the bone. This loss of blood supply causes the bone to die and if left untreated, can cause the bone to collapse. Most cases are the result of an underlying health problem or injury such as a dislocation or fracture to your thigh bone, chronic cortisone use, blood clots or excessive alcohol use.
- Dysplasia occurs when your hip socket is shallow, or the joint is misshaped causing it to wear out faster than a typical hip joint.
- Traumatic injuries or fractures usually occur from a fall or direct blow to your hip. These injuries can cause fractures and even a broken hip resulting in severe pain.
- Bursitis happens when a fluid reduces friction between the tissues of your hip producing pain. This condition is usually triggered by inflammation from trauma or strain.
- Tendonitis occurs when the tendons in the hip become inflamed causing tenderness. Strain or doing an activity more than usual can cause tendonitis along with biomechanical problems like hip dysplasia.
How can I prevent hip injuries?
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is the best way to prevent hip injuries and pain. This can be done through muscle strengthening – especially the muscles that surround your hip. A healthy diet and weight control will also help reduce additional stress placed on the hip.
Stocco also recommends daily muscle stretching to help prevent any traumatic injuries to the hip. Some of these stretches can include the hip flexor stretch, hip rotator stretch, and hip extensor stretch.
- Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on your left knee and place your right foot in front of you, so your right hip and knee are at about a 90-degree angle. (You can put a cushion on the floor if you need to.) Take your left hand on your left hip and push that hip forward, so it is in front of your left knee. Keep your chest up and try not to bend your hips forward. Repeat on the other side.
- Hip Rotator Stretch (Internal Rotators): Sit on a chair and cross your left leg over the right, so your ankle is laying across your right thigh. Place your left hand on your left thigh and gently press down until you feel resistance. Next tilt your hips forward slowly as your exhale. Try and keep your back straight. Repeat with your other leg.
- Hip Extensor Stretch (Standing Hamstring Stretch): Stand facing a chair or table keeping your chest up and back straight. Place your leg on the chair and bend forward at the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Repeat with the other leg.
Contact your physician or physical therapist if you have any questions about these stretches or are wondering if they are an option for you.
What to do if you have a hip injury?
If you have a hip injury, try and locate where the pain is coming from. If it is your hip joint, you will usually feel pain in your groin area. Stocco recommends using the RICE method – rest, ice, gentle compression, and elevation. If you do not see a change in pain between one and two weeks it may be time to schedule an appointment with your physician.
However, if you are unable to walk or bear weight on your leg without a significant amount of pain you should call your physician immediately for an evaluation.