Hip pain is a widespread condition. Your hip joint is an elaborate ball and socket type joint that bears up to 5 times your body weight when you run. When you run, you put intense pressure on this joint. Depending on the shape and structure of your hip joint, many things can go wrong, causing injury and pain.
Dr. Joshua D. Harris is a highly skilled orthopedic surgeon with a specialty hip preservation surgery practice in Houston, Texas. He has many years of experience in both medical research and providing direct care to patients. Dr. Harris is an avid runner himself. He knows that hip pain can be very debilitating, especially in runners, and understands that you want to get back to action as quickly and safely as possible.
Types of hip pain caused by running
Your hip joint is made up of two main bones, along with several ligaments, muscles, and tendons covering the joint. It is normally a round ball and socket (the femur is the ball; the acetabulum/pelvis is the socket) joint that allows for a vast range of motion. If the normal “ball and socket” is not perfectly round (called FAI - femoroacetabular impingement - “hip impingement”), then pain can occur. If the socket is too shallow (called dysplasia), then pain can occur.
There are two types of cartilage in the hip joint: one is the labrum, the other is the joint cartilage, called “articular cartilage”. The articular cartilage cushions the joint and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. If missing this articular cartilage, that is what arthritis is (“bone on bone”). The labrum is a stabilizing type of cartilage - essentially forms a ring of cartilage around the socket. It helps stabilize the ball in the socket by forming a gasket seal - a suction seal - to keep the ball in the socket. The labrum has nerve fibers in it, that if torn, may cause pain.
The ligaments in your hip (also called the “hip capsule”) stabilize the joint and help prevent instability or dislocating your joint. Several muscles and tendons (21 to be exact) provide the strength to move the hip and also help dynamically stabilize it.
In runners, stress fracture can be a serious cause of hip pain. If there is too much load on hip bones (too many miles, too many hills, wearing a weight vest, too much speed work), then the bone may be unable to repair itself and a stress fracture can occur. If you have had a stress fracture in another location (foot, tibia, among others), then you may also be at risk of a hip stress fracture. If you have low calcium or vitamin D, osteopenia, or osteoporosis, then you may be at risk of a hip stress fracture.
Any of these components of your hip joint can be injured, causing hip pain. Some of the many causes of hip pain include:
- Hip impingement (FAI)
- Labral tear
- Stress fractures
- Cartilage tears
- IT Band syndrome
- Snapping hip syndrome
- Sprains or strains
- Pinched nerve
- Gluteus medius tears
- Ischiofemoral impingement
- Hamstring tendonitis
- Hamstring tear
The only way to determine the specific cause of your hip pain is to have a thorough medical examination and diagnostic testing by a specialist.
How is hip pain diagnosed?
To provide a diagnosis for your hip pain, Dr. Harris reviews your medical history, including details about your current symptoms and the location and intensity of your pain. He completes a physical exam, recording information on the range of motion of your hip joint, along with any issues with the functioning of the components of the joint.
Dr. Harris typically completes diagnostic tests to get a closer look at possible causes of your hip pain. These may include X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests to show the condition of your bones and soft tissues around your joint. He then uses all the information he has gathered to provide you with a diagnosis for your hip pain.
Treatments for hip pain
Once Dr. Harris provides a diagnosis for your hip pain, he develops a treatment plan to address your condition. The specific components of this plan are determined by your diagnosis, but may include:
- Activity modification
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Dr. Harris typically recommends trying less invasive options first to see if your injury or condition can be successfully treated using those methods. If not, surgery may be necessary to relieve your pain and allow you to regain your full range of motion.
If you are experiencing hip pain, or have another medical concern, call our office to set up an appointment, or use our online booking tool to find a date and time that works best