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Hip and Knee Pain: Common Causes & Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Hip and Knee Pain

Hip and knee pain - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Story At-A-Glance
  • Every time you climb up those steep stairs, you might feel an ache in your hip or knee joints. You mostly toughen it out, but should you? Find out the causes, symptoms, and treatment for knee and hip pain.
  • Hip and knee pain (joint pain) is a common issue that affects people of different ages. It might be a result of injuries like torn cartilage, fractures, or medical problems like gout or arthritis.
  • The pain is usually localized to a specific area of your knee or hip or diffused throughout your joints. Some of the hip and knee pain symptoms include dull burning discomfort, redness, and swelling.
  • Extensive examinations like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and physical tests help to determine the cause of your hip and knee pain. These also help establish the type of treatment necessary.
  • To prevent and manage knee and hip pain, you need to go for physical therapy, invest in hip and knee pain exercise, wear protective pads when exercising, take joint support supplements, and consult a doctor when the pain becomes unbearable.

Introduction

If you find yourself struggling to do those box jumps, get out of bed every morning, or even get down on the floor when dancing, you might be suffering from hip and knee pain. It’s one of the most common issues affecting about 40.7% of people in the US alone.

The hip and knee pain causes vary from one person to another, and each cause results in treatments, features, and outcomes. Most of the triggers are mostly harmless and are quickly resolved by changing your dietary plan or investing in a solid fitness program. However, some of the pain causes require long-term treatment and trigger long-term joint issues.

The only way to prevent further damage is by detecting early symptoms and seeking early treatment. With that said, here is a deep-dive guide in hip and knee pain, the common causes, symptoms, and recommended treatments. Read on to find out more.

Hip and Knee Pain Explained?

Knee and hip pain is the most prevalent musculoskeletal issue that people take to their doctors. With people becoming increasingly active, knee issues are also skyrocketing, especially with people aged 40 and above.

Hip and knee pain might result from injuries like fractures, mechanical issues like terrible sleeping positions, and medical conditions like bursitis, osteoarthritis, and osteonecrosis. It is also mostly aggravated by physical activities like HIIT workouts and obesity, which are said to affect over 60% of adults globally.

What Can You Do For the Knee and Hip Pains?

Factors such as age, athletic activity, trauma, and obesity are the most common factors that trigger hip and knee pain. For every pound that you are obese, your joints absorb an additional four pounds of the pressure when you run, hike that mountain, or climb the stairs.

Resting and taking it easy in sports is one of the ideal things you can do for hip and knee pain. However, if you think you’re at risk of experiencing these issues, here are ways you can ward off injuries:

  • Lose the extra pounds by being more active
  • Take time and prepare your muscles for your sport
  • Invest in balance and stability training since it allows your hip and knee muscles to work harmoniously
  • Rather than always hitting the HIIT, try switching to a low-impact hip and knee pain exercise like water aerobics or yoga

Hip and Knee Pain Causes

Hip and Knee Pain Causes
There are a myriad of hip and knee pain causes. These include:

1. Injuries

These are the most common hip and knee pain causes. They are the following:

Fractures. Your hip and knee bones can be hurt during falls or auto accidents. Moreover, people whose bones are weakened due to various medical conditions can sustain a fracture by simply stepping wrong.

Patellar Tendinitis. It can cause irritation or inflammation of your tendons – thick and fibrous tissues attached to the bones. The inflammation can result from injuries to the patellar tendon that runs from the patella to the shinbone and enables you to run, jump, or kick.

2. Mechanical Issues

Mechanical problems account for a significant percentage of hip and knee pain causes in the United States alone. They include:

Dislocation. Your hip or knee joint can be dislocated, which is a common hip and knee pain medical emergency that needs immediate attention. A dislocation can compromise blood flow to your leg and trigger other related issues.

Sleep Posture. Your sleeping position might be causing your hip and knee pain. According to studies, a mattress that’s too hard or soft can affect your pressure points, leading to sore hips and knees.

Snapping Hip Syndrome. It mostly occurs in athletes or dancers and is characterized by a snapping sound in your knee or hip. It is one of the most popular hip and knee pain causes in sportspeople. It occurs when you’re running or getting up from the ground. It is mostly painless, but when ignored, it can trigger acute pain caused by overtime cartilage tear.

3. Medical Conditions

Sometimes, hip and knee pain can be a result of medical issues like:

Arthritis. One of the most common hip and knee pain causes, arthritis has been shown to affect over 30% of people aged 40 and above. The condition is characterized by stiff and tender joints and difficulty in walking. It also occurs in different forms. Some of the most popular include:

  • Osteoarthritis – triggered by age-related issues or wearing down of joint cartilage
  • Infection arthritis – triggered by the destruction of cartilage
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – results from the immune system launching an attack on your joints. The condition can ultimately destroy your bones and joint cartilage

Osteonecrosis. It occurs when blood doesn’t get to your bones, temporarily or permanently. It can often lead to loss of joint cartilage or supporting bones. Unlike arthritis, in osteonecrosis, the cartilage can work normally but eventually breaks down as it progresses. Ultimately, your bones break or crumple – there’s no definite cause of osteonecrosis.

Hip and Knee Pain Symptoms

Hip and Knee Pain Symptoms
Hip and knee pain symptoms vary from one person to another, and the trigger for the pain often affects how the symptoms occur. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling around the knees and over the hips
  • Tenderness and warmth around your joints
  • Limping
  • Pain when working out
  • Loss of motion of your hips
  • Difficulty sleeping on the side

Based on the hip and knee pain condition, you might experience some discomfort in your:

  • Groin
  • Buttocks
  • Thigh
  • Inside and outside of the hip joint
  • Foot

Sometimes, the hip and knee pain symptoms can also result from back pain or a hernia, which radiates to your hips and knees. You should check with a professional if the hip and knee pain symptoms are accompanied by:

  • Intense pain
  • Persistent fever
  • Joint deformity
  • Pain persists for over two weeks
  • If you observe other symptoms like sudden weight loss or night sweats
  • Inability to use your joints
  • Over-the-counter meds do not offer relief

Hip and Knee Pain Treatment

Hip and Knee Pain Treatment
When the hip and knee pain symptoms are unsurmountable, you need to seek immediate treatment. However, your doctor will perform various examinations to determine the cause and best treatment for your pain. Some of the exams include X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasounds.

If the doctor suspects other causes, they might order a blood test to check for autoimmune disorders like osteonecrosis. They might also need to conduct sedimentation rate tests that allow them to measure the level of inflammation in your body.

When they are certain about the pain’s cause, they will offer you the best course of hip and knee pain treatment. Some of the most popular treatment options include:

1. Medications

It is the most accessible hip and knee pain treatment. Your doctor can prescribe some ibuprofen to help you manage some underlying issues or for pain relief. You can also get some from over-the-counter without having to get a prescription. There are also plenty of dietary supplements that feature ingredients known to help with joint pains.

2. Injection

Hip and knee pain treatment is common among athletes and dancers. It works by injecting pain medication directly into your knee. The most popular knee and hip pain injection meds include corticosteroids and lubricants.

Corticosteroids help with arthritis and inflammation of the knee. A doctor will offer this form of treatment at least twice every three months for the best results. Lubricants, on the other hand, look like the fluid around your knee joint. It’s injected to help with movement and offer pain relief.

3. Physiotherapy

At times, especially with sportspeople, a doctor will recommend physical therapy sessions. This form of hip and knee pain treatment helps strengthen your muscles around your knee and hip joints to make them more stable and offer the best mechanical movements. A physiotherapist also helps avoid injuries or further degradation of your joints.

4. Home Remedies

If the hip and knee pain symptoms are not as bad, you can invoke some simple natural home treatments to help ward off the pain. Some of these remedies include:

simple natural home treatments

The RICE Mnemonic
The hip and knee pain treatment option is mainly helpful when it comes to minor injuries:

  • Rest – take a break from your normal activities and rest your joints
  • Ice – apply some ice cubes on the swollen part of the knee or hip to avoid further swelling and ward off pain
  • Compress – use a compression bandage to help prevent swelling and assist in knee alignment. Ensure it’s not tight, and make sure you don’t sleep with it
  • Elevate – place your leg in an elevated position to help with swelling and offer some much-needed rest

Sleep Posture
If you are a side sleeper, try sleeping on your back, on your stomach, or the side take doesn’t hurt. Ensure that you also place a soft and comfy pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.

Low-Impact Exercises
You might also benefit from a low-impact hip and knee pain exercise. One of the most highly recommended exercises is swimming.

You might also want to try some yoga or tai chi since they don’t have a massive impact on your knee and help you stretch your hip and knee joints.

5. Surgery

Sometimes, medication, physiotherapy, and a low-impact hip and knee pain exercise might not do the trick for you. In such cases, the doctor will recommend surgery.

The knee and hip pain treatment typically ranges from arthroscopic surgeries to total hip/knee replacement. Arthroscopic surgery is one of the most popular, and it involves the physician looking inside your knee or hip joint via a few small holes and the fiber-optic camera.If the damage is not as severe, the surgeon will repair the injuries and remove pieces of loose cartilage or bone tissue. In case you have severe arthritis, though, the physician will almost always recommend total joint replacement.

Other Treatment Options

Another hip and knee pain treatment option is acupuncture. According to studies, this traditional Chinese treatment offers some pain relief, especially in patients with osteoarthritis. A chiropractor will place some tiny needles in key areas of the knee or hip to promote healing.

knee pain treatment option is acupuncture

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it can. If you have an issue with your hip joint, you might experience some pain around your groin, in your knee, or your foot. At times, knee pain might be the only sign of hip issues – this is commonly referred to as radiated pain, and it's fairly common.

Well, there is a fast and effective hip and knee pain treatment. You can apply some ice to the affected area, rest your knee, or try using a compression bandage to offer quick relief.

Sometimes, a hip and knee pain exercise or a 30-minute physical therapy session can be soothing and lessen the pain.

According to experts, you need to avoid:

  • Processed and added sugars found in candy, soda, and even barbeque sauce
  • Red and processed meats
  • Alcohol
  • High-sodium products like canned soup, pizza, and certain cheeses

Some of the most common risk factors include:

Obesity - it stresses your hip and knee joints, triggering cartilage breakage

Biomechanics - changes in the knee or hip (leg-length difference, or variations in walking style due to back issues) can trigger subtle changes, resulting in hip and knee injuries or pain

Overuse of the joints during repetitive activities - some sports activities or workout sessions might trigger the breakdown of cartilage and result in injuries and substantial joint pain

Instead, if you are prone to these injuries, try a simple, low-impact hip and knee pain exercise like swimming or tai chi. It helps you achieve your fitness goals while also protecting your knee from further injuries.

The Bottom Line

Hip and knee pain can be frustrating, especially when your career depends on your joints or you are an avid fitness enthusiast. It can dampen your spirits and trigger stress and anxiety.

Thankfully though, there are ways to prevent and treat this pain before it becomes chronic. You can try a low-impact hip and knee pain exercise, invest in reliable joint supplements, or try some physical therapy.

You will also have to make some lifestyle adjustments like stretching before bed or after a simple hip and knee pain exercise, trying some mild weight loss exercises, avoiding alcohol and processed foods, and replacing your running shoes frequently to ensure adequate support and cushioning.

If the pain becomes surmountable, you should check with your physician and find an appropriate hip and knee pain treatment for your situation.

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