Most of us don’t give much thought to our hips unless they’re having trouble squeezing into last year’s dress or causing us physical pain. Dr. Keith Fehring from OrthoCarolina’s Hip and Knee Center can’t help you much with the first issue, but he’s spent his career dealing with the second. We chatted with Dr. Fehring all about hip pain issues women might encounter through various stages of our lives, how to prevent problems and when to talk to a professional. Here’s what he had to say:
Women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s
Our bodies are rapidly changing during this time period, which is why Dr. Fehring said it’s not uncommon to start having complaints of hip pain. Many of these problems relate to the muscles and tendons around the hip, and are often the result of overuse. At these ages, the most common hip complaints Dr. Fehring sees are injuries that cause tears in the hip, or structural problems with the bones that cause impingement (bones rubbing against one another).
The fix: In order to avoid hip problems, Dr. Fehring suggests working on strengthening and flexibility exercises for the hip. This will help build up the muscles around the joint in order to take stresses off the hip. He also suggested finding a hip-specific routine and sticking with it. A workout program with consistency is key for these muscle groups rather than trying new exercises and different activities every day.
Women in their 50s and above
Our bodies are still changing at this point in life, and our metabolism is starting to slow down. Dr. Fehring says even at this age, flexibility and activity are important for avoiding injury around the hips. Some common hip problems at this age include bursitis (inflammation of the soft tissues around your hip) and arthritis (the cartilage, or cushioning between the bones in your hip joint, starting to wear out).
The fix: Staying active with cross training or low-impact activities such as biking, swimming and the elliptical are all good ways to avoid any overuse injuries or aggravation of arthritis. Dr. Fehring says particularly as women of a certain age try to increase their exercise routines, they may find that they need to alternate activities to lessen the impact on their joints. If you do find yourself with a case of bursitis of the hip, it typically can be treated non-surgically with anti-inflammatories, stretching exercises and occasionally injections.
How often does surgery come into play?
Dr. Fehring says if you have arthritis and hip pain/stiffness is severely affecting your daily activities, it may be time to explore the option of a hip replacement. It may sound scary, but Dr. Fehring says many advances have been made with the surgery, making it a great option for patients with hip arthritis who want to return to an active, pain-free lifestyle.
When to rest, ice and take anti-inflammatories:
– If you’re sore after increased activity
– If your pain resolves after resting
When to see a doctor:
– If your hip pain is causing a limp
– If your hip pain is accompanied by popping and/or clicking
– If you have decreased mobility of the hip or stiffness
– If you can’t sleep at night because your hip pain is so bad
– If your hip pain is steadily escalating
Kids and teenagers
Dr. Fehring says hip pain is often a cause for concern in kids and teenagers. Common problems include tendonitis, muscle strains, inflammation of the hip, infection around the hip or growth plate problems. If your child or teen is complaining with hip pain, don’t just brush it off — especially if they’re limping or wanting to avoid activities because of the pain. A child complaining of hip pain should be taken seriously, and a visit to the doctor is likely warranted, Dr. Fehring says.
The fix: Stretching prior to exercise can help avoid common problems around the muscles of the hip, but hip pain that does not go away after activity or resolve with anti-inflammatories should be evaluated by a doctor.
Need more info on hips? Contact OrthoCarolina’s Hip and Knee Center at 704-323-2564.
Meet our expert
Dr. Keith Fehring got his doctorate of medicine from George Washington University (UNC Chapel Hill undergrad) and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Medical College of Virginia. He completed his adult reconstruction lower extremity fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. He’s received multiple awards and appeared in multiple medical publications.