Hip pain and how you can avoid it

Many Australians suffer hip pain because of degenerative joint disease (DJD). In fact, a little more than 44,000 Aussies underwent a hip operation in 2015 and that number looks set to rise.

For all her exercise Jane Fonda had one replaced, former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has admitted he needs one doing, and Australian television star Amanda Keller had hers done at the age of 49, despite being physically active.

If you’re suffering excruciating hip pain, you aren’t alone.

There is plenty of treatment available to help you maintain an active and quality lifestyle and yet many people put it off.

Reasons why your hips might hurt

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Most hip pain is caused by osteoarthritis, however you might also suffer pain because of a fracture, dislocation or injury; Rheumatoid arthritis; hip dysplasia; or a condition known as ‘avascular necrosis’ where the ball of the hip loses healthy blood supply and the bone dies.

If you feel a burning sensation in the side of your hip it could be something known as ‘bursitis’, which is an inflammation and swelling of a fluid-filled sac acting as a cushion between the tendons and the bones.

Some quick methods of treatment for your pain include paracetamol, ibuprofen and ice packs but when that doesn’t work you should see your doctor.

How you can get better

Despite what you may believe, there are steps you can take to avoid surgery and turn your life around. If you are overweight or are a smoker, you should look at your lifestyle. Exercise and a good diet are the keys to success.

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According to some experts, at least two hours of exercise a week can help strengthen the muscles that support your joints. Weight loss can make all the difference and even prevent the need for surgery at all.

If you can, get in at least 30 minutes of low-impact, non-weight bearing cardio at least three times a week. Think cycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine at the gym. Running is an activity you should avoid as the impact on your hip joint can make things worse.

If your pain is mild to moderate then you might get by taking painkillers or using an aid such as a walking stick to get by. If symptoms improve then the good news is you may have avoided surgery.

If there’s no improvement your doctor might recommend surgery.

Three routines that will benefit your hips

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Extension: Start with your elbows and knees on the floor, raise one leg behind you and keep the knee bent at 90 degrees. Return the leg back down and repeat 15 times. Do at least 3 sets. This works the large muscle of your glute (buttock), which gives you greater stability and strength when climbing stairs or walking.

Flexion: Start with your hands and feet in a push-up position, then bend one knee and raise your right leg ahead of you to place the foot towards your right hand. Aim to plant it towards the outside of the right hand. Once you’ve done this, return your leg to the starting position and repeat for the left side. Do a total of 15-20 reps.

This is good for engaging the flexion and rotational muscles around the hip joint, and has the additional benefit of aiding your abdominal and core.

Rotation: Lie on your side with both knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet and knees together. Keep the lower leg in contact with the ground, raise your top leg up, rotating the hip, but keep your feet together so that only your knees separate. Return to the start position and repeat for up to 20 reps.

This exercise is good for the rotational muscles of your hip and buttock area as it provides strength to cope with twisting and random movements.

Do you have pain in your hips? Have you had a hip replacement or know of someone who has? Tell us your experience.