Hip pain, or “tight hips,” are quite common in women. When patients come in with tight hips, it often means that they are experiencing tension or even pain at the top, front, or side of the legs. Tight hips are common in Western cultures, which might be due to lifestyles that involve excessive sitting. Because of habits like this, physical tightness in the hips has become increasingly more common. The first signs of hip problems is often a simple feeling of tension in the hip or groin area, along with stiffness, limping, and swelling or tenderness. Hip pain is common in both men and women, but the reasons behind the hip pain can differ for each. For women, some of the main causes of hip pain include:
Arthritis is more common in women than in men. Of the 27 million Americans living with osteoarthritis, about 60% are women. Osteoarthritis tends to develop gradually over a few years as the joint cartilage wears away. Osteoarthritis onset usually happens after the age of 40. Many women feel arthritis pain in the front of the thigh or in the groin and because of stiffness and swelling in the joint. Treatment for this condition tends to include rest, occupational or physical therapy, exercise, and sometimes therapy to correct joint damage in severe cases.
- Hip fractures
Three-quarters of all hip fractures are experienced by women. Women lose bone density faster than men do, which is due in part to the drop in estrogen levels that happen alongside menopause. In severe cases, hip fractures make it impossible to walk. In other cases, patients with hip fractures can still walk, but they complain of vague pain in the hips, butt, thighs, groin, or back. One of the first signs of a hip fracture is actually a toe that appears injured on the side or turns out, which can help make a diagnosis. In some of the less severe cases, a broken hip can heal without surgery and will heal on their own. In more severe cases, a hip fracture can be repaired through metal screws, plates, and rods. In the most severe of cases, treatment will involve surgery, rehabilitation, and medication.
- Tendinitis and bursitis
Tendinitis and bursitis are both conditions that involve the tendons that connect the muscles and joints. Because women are more likely to sustain soft tissue injury, both of these conditions are common in women and can lead to hip pain. Tendinitis is a painful condition in which the tendons become inflamed. The tendons around the joints can become inflamed due to overuse, which can lead to tendinitis and hip pain. Bursitis, on the other hand, occurs when the small sacs of fluid around a joint become irritated and inflamed. It is similar to tendinitis in the sense that the sacs can become inflamed from irritation or overuse and can cause pain when moving the hip joint. Both of these conditions can be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. We will always treat them on a case-by-case basis, but avoiding the motion that caused the pain and working to build strength in these areas will be a top priority.
Hernias are common in both men and women, but the symptoms vary. In the groin area, inguinal hernias can cause anterior hip pain in women. Pregnant women are also susceptible to inguinal hernias because of the additional pressure of the wall of the abdomen. Hernias can be effectively treated with surgery, but surgery is not always required. Simply monitoring the situation might be a sufficient form of treatment.
- Gynecological and back issues
In some cases, hip pain in women can be due to gynecological reasons. For example, endometriosis can cause pelvic tenderness, which can resemble hip pain. Pain from the back and the spine can be referred and felt around the buttocks and hip. Sciatica can also start in the lower back and travel down to the buttocks and legs.
With osteonecrosis, blood flow to an area of a bone is reduced. The bones are made up of living cells that require a blood supply in order to stay healthy. With osteonecrosis, the result can be dead bone tissue, which can eventually break down and cause collapse. It most often develops in the ends of long bones like the high and upper arm. Osteonecrosis affects people between 30 to 50 years of age and affects both men and women of all ages. When first diagnosed with osteonecrosis, one of the best treatments is limiting weight bearing and resting the area. For patients who experience worsening of the condition, they might require a procedure called core decompression.
- Septic arthritis
Septic arthritis is an infection in the joint fluid and joint tissues that happens in children more often than adults. Septic arthritis is usually caused by bacteria that spreads through the blood stream from another place in the body. Additional risk factors for septic hip arthritis include advanced age, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, joint surgery, hip osteoarthritis, and hip or knee prostheses.
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates alongside the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica is most common in adults who are in their 40s and 50s.
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a disorder of adolescents in which the growth plate is damaged and the femoral head moves with respect to the rest of the femur. The rest of the femur is shifted while the head stays in the cup of the hip joint. Hip pain is a major symptom of this condition and the left hip is more commonly impacted than the right.
What Relieves Hip Pain?
Sometimes, hip pain is not caused by a fracture or a serious condition, but by stress and lack of care. In these cases, hip pain tends to improve with self-care. For hip pain that is not suddenly onset or severe, it can often be helped with the following methods:
- Rest and keep weight off the hip. Avoid placing direct pressure on the hip like bending, sitting, or lying on the side of the pain.
- Try over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
- Apply cold packs to the hip in order to reduce swelling and pain.
- Perform gentle exercises with low impact exercises like walking and swimming.
- Take a warm bath or shower to help the muscles stretch when exercising.
- Lose excess weight (if necessary) through healthy means.
Whether you are dealing with spinal pain, back pain, or beyond, ProFysio Physical Therapy offers effective treatment options to help relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore maximum daily function. Our comprehensive 1:1 treatment methods will improve your flexibility, range of motion, strength, mobility, and decrease pain overall. If it is pain you are struggling with, we have the solutions your body needs.
To learn more about our professional pain management and physical therapy services, call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online.