Chronic hip pain is often caused by:
- Arthritis — Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause swelling and inflammation of the hip joint that becomes worse over time.
- Hip fractures — Sports, falls, trauma or repetitive activities that put stress on the hips can lead to a break in the thigh bone.
- Hip impingement — This abnormal wearing of the hip ball-and-socket joint causes a bony “bump” to form along the end of the hip, resulting in friction that can damage the joint and limit activity.
The most common reason for a hip replacement is osteoarthritis, which can wear away the cartilage in the hip joint. As your cartilage breaks down, you feel the pain of your bones scraping against each other.
“Some patients have pre-disposing anatomic and biologic conditions that make them wear out their joints. Some have trauma. Some have arthritis in all their joints — it’s just an aging of the cartilage,” explains Anna Kulidjian, MD, a Scripps Clinic orthopedic surgeon. “Others are born with dysplasia, and their hip doesn’t fit very well — like a square peg in a round hole. Those people will wear out their hips faster because they’ll have early arthritis.”
While it used to be that hip replacement surgery wasn’t recommended before age 65 because of the risk of wearing out the implant, that’s no longer an issue with more durable and long-lasting implants.
No matter what your age, Dr. Kulidjian recommends seeing an orthopedic specialist earlier rather than later.
“If people are having groin pain and stiffness that’s limiting their ability to do what they want to do, that’s when to see a doctor,” she says. “There could be nonsurgical or less-invasive things to do to prevent degeneration. The earlier that conversation is started, the better to prevent people from having difficulty doing things they enjoy. It’s important to understand that it’s part of your overall well-being.”