Why does My Hip Hurt When Walking?

If you experience hip pain, it can be due to various reasons. The pain may be only felt at the hip point, but it can also extend to the lower back or leg. This pain may be intense and sharp, or it might be described as widespread and achy. It might be felt on either one side or both the sides, and may get worse with prolonged walking. But what can cause such pain? Are there any remedy meant to help?

What Can Cause Hip Pain When Walking?

1. Swollen Tendons

Tendonitis or swollen tendons is the most frequent cause that leads to acute hip pain, which is often caused due to over-exercising. Though this condition may be very painful, it typically heals in a few days.

2. Arthritis

The most frequent cause that leads to hip pain over the long-term is joint swelling or arthritis. Arthritis can lead to pain, tender and stiff joints, and difficulty in walking. There are two types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Your own immune system can lead to an attack to the joint, causing rheumatoid arthritis. Yet, the osteoarthritis is caused by infection or injury to the joint, or by wearing down of cartilage surrounding the joints with aging.

3. Hip Fractures

This is most common amongst the elderly people and those who go through osteoporosis; i.e. the weakening of bones due to age or many other factors. Hip fractures can lead to very sudden and severe hip pain that require urgent medical attention. Hip pain fractures can cause various complications, like blood clots in the leg. Surgery may be required to correct a hip fracture, followed by physical therapy so that you can recover.

4. Trochanteric Bursitis

This is another probable cause that leads to hip pain when walking. Trochanteric bursitis occurs due to the inflammation of the bursa that is located over the hip joint. This condition can be resulted from various factors, including posture problems, overusing the joints, hip injury, or other condition like rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Overuse Injury

Overusing your hips joints can lead to injuries. And the pain may begin minutes or hours later, because the inflamed muscles surrounding the hip joint get into spasm or fluid accumulates when the joint surfaces get inflamed. Overuse injuries might also lead to capsule damage, labrum, or cartilage, which can result in limping, painand inflammation.

6. Sciatica Pain

The pain that comes from the sciatic nerve starts within the lower back, radiating towards the buttocks and the side or front of the hip. Typically, you will feel burning, stabbing or sharp pain due to the nerve inflammation. Pain will become worse when the knee is straightened, which leads to the stretching of the sciatic nerve. It is also more difficult to stand while arising from a sitting posture, or even walk at full pace. Sometimes, the pain can be associated with tingling and numbness in the foot or leg.

Physical examination may determine the nerve root that is involved from the spine. If loss of bladder and bowel function is occur, it may indicate a neurosurgical emergency and also the presence of the cauda equine syndrome. The spinal cord may get permanently damaged if this is not recognized and treated at its earliest.

7. Bone Cancer

Cancer that is metastatic or happens in bones can lead to intense and constant pain. Often, rest may not make it better and activity is not the culprit. The spreading area and location of this pain might be dependent upon the cancer's location (inside the hip or pelvis) and the neighboring structures that are irritated or involved.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Seek urgent care from medical professionals if your hip pain is due to an injury and is escorted with:

  • A deformed joint
  • Inability in moving your hip or leg
  • Unable to bear weight on the leg affected
  • Sudden swelling
  • Intense pain

How to Deal With Hip Pain When Walking

Hip pain treatment is dependent on the diagnosis, but the pain that is caused due to sports injuries or overuse is typically treated with rest, heat and over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines. If hip pain is caused by overuse or specific activities, stop such activities that enhance the discomfort and consult your doctor for a certain diagnosis.

1. Gentle Exercise

Though a few exercises might cause discomfort, generally exercise is highly likely to help you instead of causing any major harm. Also, to avoid injuries, it is vital that you stretch prior to exercising and also wear suitable clothing, specifically good and suitable shoes while running.

2. Pain Relievers

Over the counter medicines like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and also naproxen sodium (Aleve) might help in easing your hip pain.

3. Heat or Ice

Make use of a frozen vegetables bag or ice cubes wrapped inside a towel for the application of cold treatments for your hip. On the contrary, a warm shower or bath may aid in preparing your muscles to do the stretching exercises that can reduce the pain.

4. Rest

Avoid bending repeatedly at the hip and putting direct pressure on it. Also avoid prolonged sitting and try to evade sleeping on the side affected.

5. Weight Loss

Pressure is applied on hip joint due to excess weight, so if you lose some pounds, it can give you relief and also aid you in avoiding any further problems. Losing weight even if by only 5-10 pounds can make a big difference in the discomfort or pain you go through.

6. Physical Therapy

Once the culprit of hip pain when walking is diagnosed, physical therapists can list some exercises and stretches you need to do to enhance strength and flexibility in the hip. Some aerobic exercises can also be included, like cycling, aqua therapy or swimming, which will not increase your hip pain as other high-impact activities might. Massage techniques and ultrasound are used for problems like bursitis. Lastly, physical therapists will demonstrate good body mechanics- appropriate ways to sleep, lift, stand and sit – to evade increasing hip pain.

7. Injections

For hip problems that are caused by inflammation, injection of steroids may be done to calm down the inflammation. If the swelling is severe, it may require drain of fluid from the hip.

8. Surgical Options

In rigorous osteoarthritis, hip pain can be constant, and the associated stiffness and swelling can cause difficulty in moving and limping, and restriction of normal daily activities. In cases of osteonecrosis and osteoarthritis, surgical options like hip replacement surgery are recommended.

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