It’s hard to overemphasize how much we rely on our hip joints to help us move through life. Thanks to the hip’s ball and socket structure, we can sit, stand, and walk effortlessly. In fact, most of us don’t even think about our hips until they make their presence known through hip pain and dysfunction.

Most people think of hip pain as something that occurs in older adults with arthritis, after a lifetime of wear and tear. The truth is, hip pain can also affect professional athletes, active teens, and adults. Hip issues can stem from soft tissue injuries, fractures, bony malformations, and faulty structural anatomy:

  • Labral tears: The padding that runs along the rim of the hip socket, or acetabulum, is called the labrum. Labral tears may occur as the result of an accident, such as a fall, but are most commonly caused by repetitive trauma to the hip joint. Athletes who play sports that require repeated hip flexion, such as football, soccer, or hockey – as well as runners, dancers, and yogis – are susceptible to this type of injury. Labral tears are diagnosed through diagnostic tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI): Refers to a malformation, either structural or due to an injury, in which the hip joint’s ball and socket are misaligned. The resulting rubbing between the ball and socket can cause pain and damage to the labrum lining the socket.
  • Hip dysplasia: Is a congenital abnormality in which the hip socket is shallow and misshapen and does not properly cover the femoral head. This condition causes instability in the hip joint, pain, and abnormal wear and tear of the cartilage.
  • Bursitis: is an inflammation of one of the bursa on the outside or inside of the hip joint. Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction in parts of the body where a muscle or tendon slides across bone. The irritation of tendons repeatedly rubbing across the bursa causes bursitis, leading to pain and inflammation around the hip joint.

Hip pain can impact quality of life and lead people to give up a favorite sport or activity. What’s more, untreated hip conditions often lead to early arthritis and eventual hip replacement. Fortunately, there is a broad range of treatment options between ‘suffering in silence’ and total hip replacement. Hip preservation includes surgical advances such as minimally invasive hip arthroscopy, periacetabular and proximal fem-oral osteotomies, and hip resurfacing, also known as minimally invasive hip replacement. Procedures like these most often allow patients to quickly return to sports, work, and daily activities.

Hip pain sometimes responds to non-surgical treatments such as rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medication, and exercise. If you continue to experience hip pain after trying non-surgical options, see your primary care physician for an initial diagnosis. He or she will then refer you to a specialist, if necessary.

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