Discover the anatomy of the hip, and how these causes for hip pain are identified.
A physician’s evaluation of the individual factors involved in your specific hip-area pain, as evidenced by the symptoms you are experiencing, is an important contribution to the determination of which of these hip issues is the cause of the trouble. That evaluation often begins with a discussion with your doctor about the total history of your hip pain, including the specific locations of the pain and the factors or instances that seem to cause the pain to flare up or become more noticeable both recently and at other times in the past. This is because hip issues can develop from previous injuries that may not have caused ongoing pain initially but created damage in your joint that increased the rate of deterioration and sped up the arrival of that ongoing pain. In other cases, excessive body weight can put additional stress on your joints and speed up the normal wear and tear on them, which also hastens interior joint deterioration and the arrival of chronic joint pain.
From that practical discussion of your health history, a physical exam is necessary to explore the extent of the range of motion in your hip joints, test for signs of impingement, and check for tenderness in the areas around your hip. The trained eye of your physician knows what to look for and realizes the implications of each subtle sign and symptom, but there are limits to the knowledge that can be ascertained.
That’s why x-rays are a next step, to provide a glimpse of the inner workings of your joint, and images are usually captured from several vantage points: the front (anterior), the back (posterior), and the side (lateral). Your doctor may even be interested in a fluoroscopy, which is basically an x-ray movie that provides a visual, moving model of how the many different parts of your joint work together.
Your hip evaluation may also extend beyond the exam room with a trial regimen of physical therapy or the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to determine the extent of damage or the impact of the pain on your quality of life. A little light, low-impact exercise can actually help alleviate your pain, because it triggers your brain to launch pain-reducing endorphins into your bloodstream, helps rebuild muscles that can better protect your joints, and even contributes to the creation of stronger bones.