- 1 Try home remedies first
- 2 When should I see an orthopaedic specialist for my hip pain?
- 3 Why is it important to see a hip specialist?
- 4 Here’s what you can expect in a hip specialist consultation
- 5 Learn how to describe your hip pain
- 6 A/Professor Andrew Quoc Dutton Orthopaedic & Sports Clinic Insurance
Troubled by persistent discomfort on your hips? We’ve all been there before, and that’s because this joint is one of the most overworked in the body. The cartilage eventually wears off, the muscles and tendons get injured, or the joint may be in the line of fire of a certain disease.
When these things happen, it pays to seek the help of a hip specialist. In Singapore, this specific service is available to you. But before you make that call, here are five important reminders you need to consider first!
Try home remedies first
Since there are different reasons behind hip pain, it’s safe to try home remedies first to find relief. So, when hip pain occurs, you can try these simple solutions before any medical intervention is considered:
- Apply a warm compress or a heating pad. Heat boosts the flow of blood and nutrients to the affected area of the body. It’s not advisable for acute injuries such as muscle sprains, strains, fractures or dislocations, but you can use heat for muscle pain or stiffness. When you’re using a heating pad, make sure that you use a low setting and place a barrier to protect your skin from accidental burns. It’s also a rule of thumb that heat should not be introduced for the first 48 hours after an injury.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected hip. Cold eases pain and tenderness by numbing the affected area. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation. This is perfect for injuries like tendonitis or bursitis. You can alternate applying an ice pack for 20 minutes followed by 20 minutes without it.
- Try Hydrotherapy. You can take a hot shower or soak in a hot tub or whirlpool at home. You can also add Epsom salts to a warm bath for added benefit. As the crystal dissolves, your body will absorb the magnesium through the skin causing the muscles to relax and reduce inflammation.
- Take Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. NSAIDS such as ibuprofen are some of the easier options to manage pain and discomfort, especially in the early stages. These drugs work by reducing the production of substances in the body called prostaglandins which cause pain and inflammation in your joints.
- Rest your hip right. That means you avoid activities that worsen the pain. Avoid sleeping on your side, but if you’re used to doing so, use a firm pillow between your knees to align your hips.
- Do stretching exercises for the lower back and hip area. Besides decompressing these areas, stretching can also help lessen the pain and help you to be strong and flexible. You can check out simple stretching exercises you can do, here.
If hip pain occurs suddenly and severely, and if home remedies don’t alleviate the pain within the week, it’s better that you get medical attention as soon as possible.
When should I see an orthopaedic specialist for my hip pain?
There are situations where your hip pain requires immediate medical attention. You need to do so if:
- your hip pain is limiting your everyday life
- mild pain lingers for a few weeks
- the pain is severe
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen no longer controls your pain
- you have difficulty sleeping or getting out of bed
- there’s an obvious deformity
- you’re unable to bear weight on the hip joint
- you’re unable to move the affected leg, or the pain makes you limp
- you toes feel numb or appear pale
- you experience sudden and severe swelling in the hip or the associated leg
- you develop a fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit that occurs along with your hip pain.
Getting professional medical care even for mild conditions can keep the problem from worsening and help prevent complications. So, get the help you need as soon as you can.
Why is it important to see a hip specialist?
When home remedies are not enough to manage hip pain, it helps that you consult an orthopaedic surgeon. A GP (general practitioner) may be okay, but a bone doctor is devoted to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
It’s also worth noting that some orthopaedists are generalists, while others specialize on major joints like the hips, shoulders, and knees. In Singapore, A/Professor Dutton is among those who focus on these areas, as well as provide surgical and non-surgical interventions.
Besides an orthopaedic doctor, you may also work with a physical therapist to help you strengthen the muscles that support your hip and also relieve pain. Proper professional care can keep the problem from worsening and also averts complications.
Here’s what you can expect in a hip specialist consultation
During your appointment, our orthopedic doctor will ask you about your usual physical activity and the hip pain or discomfort you have. We want to understand how your daily habits may be affecting your pain and how you’ve been managing it.
We will also review your medical history by looking at any past tests you have had. We may also order tests such as:
- blood tests,
- CT scans,
- MRIs, or
- diagnostic injections.
At our clinic, our goals during your visit are to:
- correctly diagnose your problem
- identify the tests needed to help with the diagnosis
- manage your pain
- help you return to your desired activities
Learn how to describe your hip pain
Hip pain often stems from an injury or inflammation in or around the joint. It’s often linked to conditions like arthritis, bursitis, fractures, dislocation, sciatica and structural damage to any surrounding soft tissues. On rare occasions, hip pain can also be a symptom of certain cancers.
The location of your hip pain is also a telling sign of what’s causing it. For example, if you have joint discomfort when climbing the stairs, that may indicate sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Hip pain that occurs when sitting may be caused by trochanteric bursitis, which is an inflammation of bursa which is located on the outer portion of the hip.
Since we all experience pain differently, sometimes it’s difficult to know how to explain the degree and type of pain to your doctor when you need help. But, the better you can describe that pain, the quicker and more successful the doctor can be in matching you with a treatment that will help you feel better.
To help you assess the pain you feel, you can ask yourself these questions:
- How long have you felt the pain?
- Where do you feel the pain?
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
- Does it seem like something in particular triggers your pain?
- Are there activities that make your pain better or worse?
- How does your hip pain limit what you can do?
- What time of day is your pain better or worse?
- What have you tried so far to help? (Medications, creams, physical therapy, surgery, etc.)
- How do I rate my pain on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst?
There are also certain descriptors that can help your doctor categorise the pain you’re feeling. Check the adjectives below and see if any of these describe your pain:
- Stabbing or piercing
Once doctors understand what you are feeling based on your account, they can choose a multi-modal treatment plan that may include medications, injections, surgery, or physical therapy.
If left untreated, hip pain can progress from annoying to debilitating. When it’s causing you to avoid activities, this can lead to additional problems later on. But by seeing a doctor, or a hip specialist, early in the process to get an accurate diagnosis, you may spare yourself from lasting damage and find relief in conservative treatments to relieve discomfort. We hope that the reminders we shared can help you prepare for the next step.
If you’re looking for professional treatment for any musculoskeletal concerns here in Singapore, you may call us at (+65) 6836 8000 today.