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Leg and Hip Pain

Hip Pain

The hip is an extremely important weight bearing joint that allows the body to walk, run and sit, and attaches the femur to the pelvis. Although the hip is a very strong joint, it can be damaged and cause considerable pain. The most common hip injuries occur from sports-related injuries, motor vehicle accidents arthritis and falls in elderly patients. Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability, and affects women more often than it does men.

The hip is a ball and socket joint where the pelvis connects to the femur. On the top of the femur is a round ball which fits into a socket formed by the pelvic bone. A group of muscles and ligaments keep the ball in the socket and prevent it from overextending.

Hip pain often comes from injuries. Hip dislocation and fractures in the femur are considered acute injuries and can be treated as such. Hip and leg pain can come from a number of different conditions though, including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, avascular femoral head necrosis, labral tears and lumbar radiculitis.

  • Osteoarthritis  is also know as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, and is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. People more likely to suffer from Osteoarthritis include women, people over 55, obese people, and those with a history of joint problems. The knees and the joints at the tops of the fingers are the joints most commonly affected by Osteoarthritis There is typically no swelling or redness associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis  is a chronic, systemic, inflammatory, destructive form of arthritis. It can be found in anyone, but is most often seen in women between the ages 35 and 50. Inflammation is thought to be caused by viruses, bacteria and genetic factors. RA involves both large and small joints. The originating cause is by a nonspecific inflammation that causes T-cells to activate and eventually form a flap of tissue which erodes surrounding tendons, bones, and cartilage.
  • Avascular Femoral Head Necrosis happens when the bone does not receive an adequate amount of blood. The bone then develops necrosis and normal tissue is damaged. A fracture in the femur or the dislocation of the femoral head can cause damage to the blood vessels supplying the bone. It can also be caused by arthritis, steroids, infection, radiation, and unknown factors. When the femoral head begins to deteriorate, it can collapse and fracture if treatment is not undergone.
  • Labral Tears can be a result of an injury or from wear and tear of arthritis.The cartilage in the hip socket is called the labrum and allows smooth movements between the hip socket and the femur head. Those with labral tears describe a catching or locking sensation within the joint with certain movements. Treatment options for labral tears include medication, physical therapy, injections, and in severe cases, surgery.

When the spinal nerve in the lower back becomes irritated or aggravated, it causes a lumbar radiculitis. This condition is called referred pain because it tends to cause pain in the hip, though the pathology takes place in the lower back.

It is not always easy to diagnose hip pain because there are a number of etiologies that produce similar pain symptoms. The first step in a correct diagnosis is for the doctor to study a patient’s history and to conduct a full physical exam. Your doctor might order  radiological films, blood work, or other lab work. Imaging is very helpful because it enables the doctor to see the pathology within the affected joint. Some of the imaging reports a doctor might request are: X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans.

There are several surgical and interventional options in the treatment of severe arthritis and joint pain. The most common and most often recommended treatment is a conservative therapy under the guidance of a pain specialist. Over-the-counter pain relievers along with physical therapy can significantly improve the postural stability in osteoarthritis patients, especially with hip pain. Joint injections are also a popular treatment that is gaining more popularity because it is minimally invasive and has a high success rate.

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