6 non-surgical ways to manage hip pain

Your hip is designed to withstand a lot of impact. As the largest ball-and-socket joint in the body, your hip is crucial for every action from walking to getting in and out of the car.

Still, for all its durability, it’s normal for your hip to undergo wear and tear. Over time, you might experience stiffness, pain or inflammation that makes these everyday activities nearly unbearable. Fortunately, several non-surgical treatment options can significantly reduce your hip pain.

  1. Exercise

    If your hip pain is due to arthritis, research has shown that exercise is an essential tool for managing arthritis pain and inflammation. A variety of exercises can help you maintain flexibility and manage your weight, both of which have a direct impact on joint pain. Exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness, build strong muscles around the joints and increase flexibility.

    Range of motion (ROM) exercises will help you maintain normal joint movement. They also increase flexibility and decrease stiffness. Strengthening exercises help you build muscle strength, which can support and protect joints affected by arthritis. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, aids in weight control and may reduce inflammation. A well-rounded exercise plan should incorporate all three of these exercise types. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

  2. Medications

    Depending on the severity of your pain, a doctor may recommend starting with over-the-counter pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescription or over-the-counter, can help reduce inflammation. Some common drugstore options include ibuprofen, such as Advil, Motrin and Nuprin. Doctors may also recommend prescriptions options such as meloxicam, or Mobic, and etodolac, or Lodine.

    Certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may require more specific treatment. For example, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can help to specifically slow down the development of RA. While pain medications like ibuprofen provide relief within hours, the effects of DMARDs may not kick in until a few weeks or months after starting the treatment.

  3. Steroid injections

    Corticosteroids are a common treatment option for managing joint pain. Steroids work by lowering inflammation in the affected joint. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend taking oral steroid medication, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone. These drugs might be recommended if you haven’t seen many benefits from over-the-counter pain relievers; however, oral steroids are not usually recommended long-term.

    In some cases, your doctor may administer steroid injections. This treatment has a lower risk of side effects but is not recommended more than a few times a year. With this treatment option, the doctor administers the steroid directly to the affected joint through a shot. Typically, the pain relief lasts for about three months, and sometimes even longer. Alternatively, a doctor may recommend an injection of hyaluronan, which can help to lubricate a stiff joint and provide similar pain relief.

  4. Supplement options

    If steroid injections or medications don’t help improve joint pain, your doctor may recommend a joint fluid supplement injection. These supplements act as lubrication to provide temporary pain relief. For example, one common injection is hyaluronic acid, which starts working within a few weeks.

    How often you need supplement injections can vary depending on your pain levels and joint damage. Joint supplement injections can provide significant relief for some patients; however, they are not a cure for joint damage. Over time, patients may opt for more long-term pain relief through joint replacement surgery.

  5. Physical therapy

    If your posture, flexibility or mobility is weak, the result can be significant joint pain. A physical therapist can help you build strength and stability and restore range of motion. Physical therapy can be especially beneficial for people who have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Your therapist may lead you through a combination of strengthening and stretching exercises, including “homework assignments” to continue building strength between appointments.

    The goal of physical therapy is to help you return to your everyday activities without pain. Preserving range of motion is crucial to performing everyday activities. Physical therapists provide exercises specifically designed to preserve the strength and use of your joints.

  6. Walking aids

    If your hip pain continues to make walking difficult, you may need to use a cane or walker for assistance. This is especially important if it becomes unsafe for you to walk without assistance. If you’re losing balance or experiencing a significant amount of pain in your hip, talk with your doctor about using a cane or walker.

Want to learn more about non-surgical treatment options?

If you want to learn more about non-surgical options for hip pain, call our nurse navigator Kathryn Harada today. Kathryn brings a passion for helping patients learn and get back to moving without pain. To speak with Kathryn about your situation, call (805) 955-6233 or fill out the form below.

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Kathryn Harada, BSN, BA, RN, PHN, CNOR


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