You’re Never Too Old (or Too Young) to Alleviate Nagging Hip Pain
BY TED WILLIAMS
In the late 1980s, Bo Jackson was a huge sports star who gained international recognition for standout performances in both baseball and football. That all changed in 1991 when his hip was dislocated as he was tackled in an NFL game. The injury resulted in perhaps the most famous hip replacement surgery ever, and eventually would lead to the end of his athletic career.
But lots of people know at least some of the hip pain Bo knew. Hip pain caused by injuries, or by arthritis in the joints and inflammation to surrounding areas brought on by years of stress, is extremely common. There are several ways to treat the pain depending on the age of the patient and the nature of the discomfort, but there’s also a strong likelihood that if hip pain is chronic, hip replacement surgery is eventually needed.
Causes of hip pain
“When it comes to hip discomfort, the surgical candidates we tend to see are younger people who engage in high impact sports activities, or perform very physical work duties, such as heavy lifting,” says orthopedic surgeon Karl Helmold, MD, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine–Mauch Chunk Street in Pottsville. “Then there are older patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis. Those problems can be brought on by weight problems or simply just the wear and tear of the aging process.”
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the cause of the discomfort.
“Location is a key,” says sports medicine physician Stephen Evans, DO, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine–Mauch Chunk Street in Pottsville. “Is the pain outside the hip? Is it in the thigh or buttock area? Sometimes a spinal disk issue can cause pain in any number of areas of the body. This is our starting point to diagnosing a patient’s hip pain.”
Treatments for hip pain
“Depending on the source of the discomfort, we can treat the pain with steroidal injections, anti-inflammatory drugs or physical therapy and have good results,” says joint replacement surgeon Christopher Ferrante, MD, with Coordinated Health Bethlehem–3100 Emrick Blvd. “But if we’re talking about something that’s causing the gradual degeneration of the hip joint, a replacement is likely to be necessary at some point.”
The hip replacement prosthetic will alleviate pain and return mobility. Prosthetics typically last 25 years or longer. It depends on how much demand is placed on the device. More than 450,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. annually.
“Bo Jackson went back to baseball and wore out his prosthetic hip in two years from the constant running and pounding on the joint,” Ferrante says.
“It’s a matter of load and activity,” Helmold says. “A young person with an active lifestyle will have a shorter span with a prosthetic hip compared to an older person who may not be so active. Often, we will try different things to mitigate the pain as much as possible to put off replacement surgery to a point in a patient’s life where load and activity on the joint aren’t as much of a factor.”
Regardless of the hip problem, LVHN can help you to eliminate the pain.
“We see elderly patients and patients younger than 21 who are struggling with hip pain,” Ferrante says. “You’re never too old or too young to get help for it.”
Having joint pain? Take our free joint pain assessment to find out your next steps at LVHN.org/jointpain.