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What Are the Different Hip Symptoms?

An X-ray of the hips.
Intense, debilitating hip pain may be a sign of a fractured hip bone.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Hip problems are often associated with elderly people and those with weak bones, though people of any age can suffer from pain and other uncomfortable hip symptoms. An injury caused by a fall or an awkward twist can result in a number of symptoms, including swelling, redness, bruising, and local pain. Overuse or overexertion can result in irritation and soreness in the tendons, ligaments, and muscles near the hip joint. Other conditions, such as arthritis, can cause significant joint pain and potentially lead to fractures. Most minor hip problems can be treated at home with sufficient rest, ice, and over-the-counter drugs, though an individual with severe or long-lasting hip symptoms should consult a physician.

Some hip symptoms are the result of a direct blow to the side or a bad fall. Athletes who engage in contact sports are especially vulnerable to hip injuries, as are older people and those who have difficulty walking. After an injury, the hip socket may be tender to the touch and painful when trying to bend or walk. Minor injuries may result in swelling, redness, and eventual bruising, and usually begin to feel better in less than one week with simple home treatments. Hip pain can usually be relieved by applying ice to the hip joint, resting the legs as much as possible, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers.

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More severe hip injuries can result from serious falls, awkward bending or twisting, or overuse of the joint. If the tendons, joint tissue, or bones can become damaged, a trip to the physician's office or the emergency room is usually in order. Strained or torn tendons can become inflamed, often resulting in chronic soreness and difficulty walking. A fractured hip bone usually causes intense, debilitating pain and swells immediately, making it impossible to put weight on the leg. Tearing of the hip joint tissue, known as a hip labral tear, can cause the joint to click, stiffen, and limit flexibility.

Doctors generally suggest periods of rest and ice along with prescription painkillers to help relieve fractures, labral tears, and tendinitis. Surgery may be needed to repair a damaged tendon or replace part of the hip or femur. Near the end of recovery, which can take several months, patients generally engage in stretching exercises and physical therapy to regain strength.

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of hip symptoms in elderly people. As joint tissue and cartilage wear down over time, the hip may be stiff, tender to the touch, and frequently swollen. Hip symptoms tend to become worse after a long period of activity, and often result in significant pain. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, though symptoms can usually be alleviated by resting frequently, taking prescription or low-strength pain relievers, and joining physical therapy groups. Surgery may be necessary if the hip becomes severely damaged or broken as a result of arthritis.

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