Why hip or groin pain should not be ignored

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Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Simon Garrett explains why pain in your hip or groin, whatever your age, should not be ignored

As people age they tend to put aches and pains simply down to getting older, however this isn’t always the case. If you have a grumbling aching pain in your hip or groin, you may be suffering with hip arthritis.

Hip arthritis presents with a collection of symptoms, the most common being an aching discomfort in the groin that won’t seem to go away. It is often present during the night and you may notice stiffness, finding it difficult to get up from a chair, get in or out of a car or put on shoes and socks.

Typically a patient’s relative could be the first to notice a problem, as they are able to see a change in their loved one’s activity levels or even their personality. In my weekly clinic, often a spouse will say: “He can only walk for 20 minutes now, yet last year he could easily walk for an hour.” If you are suffering with arthritis, sleep can become very disturbed and therefore over time it can affect your mood.

There are various treatments available to treat hip arthritis. These include injections, physiotherapy and an increase in certain physical activities. Arthritic joints like to be kept moving so swimming and cycling can be very beneficial.

A hip replacement is required when a hip can’t be preserved. The surgery typically takes under an hour, patients will be up and walking as soon as possible and are home within two to three days. Patients are often amazed at how quickly they have recovered and within weeks they are back doing all the activities they haven’t been able to do for years.

It is not only as we get older that we can suffer with hip problems. Increasingly I am seeing younger patients with conditions that cause hip and groin pain. One of the most common is ‘hip impingement’. This develops when the ball and socket of the joint are mismatched in terms of size and shape. This can lead to tearing of the cartilage that surrounds the socket. Impingement symptoms are different to those due to arthritis. It tends to cause an intermittent, severe, sharp stabbing pain that can also cause the hip to feel like it has locked or given way. Driving, sitting and squatting often cause pain.

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Impingement tears can be difficult to diagnose and often require specialist tests or scans. X-rays will often appear to be normal making it harder to identify. However, we now have the ability to treat these conditions with a relatively new keyhole surgery technique known as hip arthroscopy.

If you are suffering from any sort of pain in the hip or groin area it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Ignoring the symptoms due to hip arthritis or impingement may cause further damage to the joint.

Top tips for healthy hips

• Stay active by performing non-impact exercises such as cycling and swimming

• Maintain a healthy diet and keep your weight under control

• Don’t ignore ongoing groin and hip pain

Meet the consultant

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Simon Garrett has been treating patients at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital for six months and has been a consultant for seven years. Those interested in an appointment at his weekly clinic are invited to call the Nuffield team on 01202 375032.

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