What is Hip Pain?
Hip pain affects millions of people worldwide. Pain can be experienced while walking. It also occurs during normal movements of the legs or pelvis, and can be so severe that normal activity becomes nearly impossible. Hip pain can be associated with bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, or cartilage damage.
Hip pain is particularly associated with age-related joint damage. It is estimated that one in four people will suffer from hip injuries, or degeneration, by the age of 85.
This is due to a number of factors, such as bone abnormalities and loss, deteriorations in joint movement, and weakness of the muscles and other tissues around the joint that increase with age.
These factors result in chronic pain, often accompanied by a decrease in the ability to move and function normally. The damaged or failing joint must often be operated on to remove it and replace it with a synthetic prosthesis.
Alternatively, the joint can be repaired by augmenting the bone with synthetic material until it conforms to a normal shape and function again. Post-operative hip pain is also a component of noxious stimuli in these patients.
Hip Pain Causes
The hip joint is a critically important structure of the human anatomy. Without it, it would be impossible to walk, stand upright, sit, bear the load of the spine or trunk, or perform complex maneuvers such as jumps, twists, or bends.
The hip is a type of joint known as a ball-and-socket, a term based on its appearance. In the case of the hip joint, the “ball” is the top of the femur (thigh bone), commonly known as the femoral head. The “socket” is the acetabulum of the pelvis, which forms a shallow bowl in which the femoral head fits.
Both the femoral head and acetabulum are covered with a protective layer of cartilage, called the hyaline or articular cartilage. A viscous material called synovial fluid is located between the surfaces of the joint, to form a buffer and to further facilitate movement.
Without these, the two bony components of the hip joint would wear each other away, resulting in chronic pain and a loss of normal motion.
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Hip Pain Treatments
Spinal nerve blocks are an option your doctor could recommend. Blocks are injections into the space near the affected nerves. These injections can also contain steroids to treat the inflammation that is often a source of pain.
This procedure begins with the application of a local anesthetic to the skin in the area where the injection is to be given. Nerve blocks are administered with the aid of imaging techniques, such as MRI or ultrasound. This ensures accuracy in locating the target for the injection, and of delivery to the appropriate location.
The formulation is injected into the immediate vicinity of the nerve, called the epidural space. Here, the anesthetics and/or steroids take effect and block the pain signals of the nerve. A similar procedure is a hip joint injection, in which either anesthetics or steroids are injected directly into the joint to relieve pain.