Unexplained Hip Pain & What to Do About It

When it comes to pain in the leg joints, it seems like the knees get all the attention. But the fact is, unexplained hip pain is a common medical complaint among both women and men, whether you lead an active or sedentary lifestyle.

About seven percent of adults in the U.S. have chronic hip pain according to the CDC, and that doesn’t include juvenile patients or adults with sudden hip pain. You might not hear about hip pain as frequently as you hear about knee pain, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be caused by a serious problem, nor does it mean it’s OK to ignore hip pain painful symptoms.

You use your hips a lot — probably even more than you realize — and that means there are a lot of issues that can cause pain and related symptoms. Like any joint pain, determining that underlying cause is the key to treatment — and the key to feeling better. You can help Dr. Van Thiel diagnose the cause of your hip pain by considering what your symptoms feel like and what’s causing them to occur.

Diagnosing Unexplained Hip Pain Symptoms

An evaluation is needed to understand what may be the cause of hip pain. Questions that a qualified orthopedic surgeon like Dr. Van Thiel and his clinical staff would ask, for instance, include:

  • Are you having sudden, sharp pain in your hip, or are you experiencing a dull aching in the joint?
  • Did you have a fall or other accident, or are you having sudden hip pain without injury?
  • Is your pain concentrated on the outside of the hip, or is it closer to the interior aspect near your groin?
  • Is your pain accompanied by other symptoms, like stiffness, tenderness in the skin over the joint, clicking or sticking sensations, or reduced range of movement in the joint?
  • Are your symptoms worse when you put weight on your leg, when you’re lying down, or when you’re engaged in an activity like climbing stairs?

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of hip pain, especially if you’re older, but other possible causes include: 

  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) or hip impingement, a painful condition that occurs when extra bone grows on the ball part of the joint, the socket part of the joint, or both parts, interfering with the joint’s normal range of motion
  • Labral tears, damage to the strong ring of cartilage that surrounds the hip joint, promoting normal range of motion and preventing the head of the joint from “popping” out of the socket
  • Hip infection, which can affect the bones that comprise the joint as well as the soft and connective tissues surrounding it
  • Hip dysplasia, a deformity of the hip joint that increases your risk for arthritis and dislocation
  • Tendon or muscle injuries, including sprains and strains, most often caused by overuse or repetitive use of your hips
  • Osteonecrosis, or death of bone tissue that develops when the blood supply to the hip is compromised (also called avascular necrosis)
  • Hip bursitis, sometimes called trochanteric bursitis, caused by inflammation and swelling of tiny sacs of fluid called bursa

Hip Pain Treatment

Any type of unexplained hip pain is an indication that something’s not right, either with the joint itself or with the surrounding structures and tissues. At OrthoIllinois, Dr. Van Thiel offers an array of state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options based on each patient’s unique needs.

Hip pain treatment begins with a careful evaluation of your hip and your symptoms, often accompanied by diagnostic imaging to see “inside” your hip joint. Then, Dr. Van Thiel will work with you to determine  the most appropriate treatment option based on your medical condition, your medical history, your lifestyle, and other factors. Hip arthroscopy may be an excellent option to treat the hip pain.

Both sudden, unexplained hip pain and hip pain that develops slowly over time can wind up becoming much worse without prompt medical attention. If you’re having hip pain or other unusual symptoms in or around your hip, call the office and schedule an evaluation with Dr. Van Thiel today. Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, Beloit and Algonquin.


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