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A Common Cause of Knee and Hip Pain and How to Treat It

The knee and hip are weight-bearing joints that have a very demanding task. Pain in the knees and hip may result from wear and tear, injury, or some underlying condition. Do not let hip and knee pain affect your normal activities and range of motion. Visit Redefine Healthcare if your hips and knees hurt when you sit, stand, or walk, as it could be an early sign of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which cartilage within a joint begins to break down. Dr. Eric Freeman specializes in advanced pain management treatments and helps you find relief by determining the source of pain. He figures out the common cause of knee and hip pain and suggests the best treatment and preventive strategies to make you feel better.  

The knees and hips are the largest joints in the body that work in close coordination to provide mobility and support its weight. Knee and hip disorders can occur at any age. They can be caused by exercise, degeneration, or overuse injury from a repetitive motion such as swinging a golf club or tennis racquet or even a less strenuous activity like gardening. Other common causes include bursitis, osteoarthritis, or an injury or fall that impacts the joints directly or indirectly.

Sometimes it is unclear whether the pain in the hip is resulting from a disorder of the hip joint or a condition elsewhere in the body, such as the back, pelvis, or knee.

Pain in the Knees

There may be several causes of pain, in one or both knees. It could be the outcome of a sudden incident, overuse, or an underlying condition like osteoarthritis. Treatment depends on the cause and impairment associated with the injury.

Anatomy of the Knee

Pain in the Hip

Hip pain can occur for several reasons. The hip is a large ball and socket joint. The surfaces of the joints are lined with cartilage to ensure smooth movement. There is a ring around the socket called a labrum. The labrum is cartilage as well. Issues in the joint or the ligament that hold the joint together can lead to hip pain. In most cases, pain or symptoms from the hip joint are in the groin region or the front of the hip.

Healthcare experts agree that the leading cause of most problems associated with hip and knee joints is lack of activity. To improve strength and mobility, safe, controlled, and precise exercise is essential.

A Common Cause of Knee and Hip Pain

With time, your joints lose their ability to make simple movements. It especially affects your knees and hips and results in pain. Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common conditions, a degenerative joint pain caused by wear and tear on the joints.

As you grow old, the cartilage that cushions your joints starts to wear down, making the bones rub together. The bone-on-bone action or friction of the bones leads to inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints in the arms and legs, including the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles and hips, and even the lower back.

At the beginning of OA, the cartilage between the joints becomes worn and torn, as well as inflamed.

This wear and tear process leads to loss of water in the joint, which causes the cartilage to harden. This makes the surrounding joint more stiff.

The loss of cartilage is a slow process. Due to this, some people experience OA symptoms for years before the problem progresses.

Early Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

  • PainPain in the knees, neck, back, and hips that often worsens at night and interferes with sleep. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to pain, and it usually intensifies at night. Inflammation can lead to higher levels of pain too.
  • Tenderness – Discomfort when a joint is pressed or visible swelling on the joint accompanied by tenderness.
  • Stiffness in joints – Sitting for a long time or stiffness first thing in the morning. Stiffness in joints can leave you unable to maintain your normal active lifestyle and make even simple tasks difficult.
  • Abnormal sensations – When cartilage breaks down, the bone-to-bone rubbing can cause unusual sensations. You may hear your bones clicking, crackling, or popping.
  • Loss of range of motion – You may not be able to fully bend or extend your body as easily as before, as hip and knee joints are affected.

Most people fail to understand the early signs of osteoarthritis, believing they are resulting from fatigue, overworked muscles, or old age. They delay seeing a specialist as they fear they will end up with medications for years or will have to go through surgery.   It is significant to know that early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis can be treated with conservative measures. Visiting a doctor at an early stage means timely diagnosis and treatment for pain.

Simple At-Home Treatments for Hip and Knee Pain

  • Cold and heat therapy – Pain can be treated by alternating between heat and cold therapy or using the one which helps most. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and place it on the knee or hip for about 20 minutes. The cold eases the inflammation and swelling and makes you feel better. A hot pad or a warm shower also reduces the pain and prepares the muscles for stretching.
  • Over-the-counter pain-relieving medications – Some pain-relieving medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can reduce the pain and swelling contributing to the pain. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also keep the inflammation down and help you continue your routine life.
  • Stretching and movement – Gentle stretching and exercises are essential as they can keep the stiffness down and help you move easily. Water-based movements, like water aerobics and yoga, are recommended for alleviating hip and knee pain.
  • Rest – Stay away from activities that require you to bend or put more pressure on the hip or knee. Easing your movements and rest helps with a speedy recovery.
  • Weight loss – If you are obese or have excessive weight, it is essential to lose some weight as the knee, and hip joints have to carry the extra burden that results in pain. Losing weight can reduce stress on the joints.

Read more:
Everything You Need to Know About Upper Right Back Pain and Its Possible Causes
4 Effective Exercises and Stretches to Relieve Shoulder Pain

How to Prevent Osteoarthritis

It is essential to know that osteoarthritis is not a necessary part of the aging process. This condition can result from a combination of certain factors, and modifying or controlling these factors can help prevent osteoarthritis.

Healthcare experts recommend the following guidelines for reducing the risk of OA or delaying its onset:

  • Stay active – Keeping the joints healthy from the start can delay the onset of osteoarthritis and prevent its complications. Even 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five times a week is sufficient to strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize hips and knee joints and keep them flexible.
  • Keep an eye on your blood sugar – High blood sugar or glucose levels can make the cartilage harden quickly and lead to joint issues. Diabetes can trigger inflammation that leads to cartilage loss and arthritis.
  • Protect your joints – Injuries are a part of life. Being careful when lifting heavy objects and take a break when doing something that puts too much stress on your hips or knee can protect the joints and keep them safe.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight can put added pressure on joints responsible for bearing weight, such as hips and knees. In addition to this, fat produces cytokines, destructive proteins that stimulate inflammation throughout the body, alter cartilage cells and destroy joint tissue. Shedding a few pounds can keep the inflammation and stress down on these key joints.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle – Keeping a healthy lifestyle is the best defense against osteoarthritis. Proper sleep, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management can help to keep your joints healthy.

Even though osteoarthritis is a common cause of knee and hip pain, other conditions or injuries could also be contributing to your pain. It is essential to visit a doctor for a complete evaluation of what is causing pain in your joints and how it can be managed.

Being active is the way of life, but various aches and pains in the hips and knees can affect your movement. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Eric Freeman if your knee and hip pain is causing tenderness, abnormal sensations, and stiffness in joints to learn about its possible cause and treatment options. Depending on the cause of pain, he recommends effective solutions that include gentle stretching and exercise, pain relieving medication, and lifestyle changes that not only keep away the pain but also help to prevent it. You can look forward to long-term relief from pain and enjoying activities you love.

Page Updated on Dec 15, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare

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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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