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Dr. Jerome Piontek, St. Luke's Hospital

Help is available for many types of hip pain

There are many reasons why a person might experience hip pain. But some issues, like arthritis, hip fractures and bursitis, are common among women.

Some women report "hip pain" that is really associated with gynecological and back issues, so an accurate diagnosis is important. Even though women may be similar in age, physique and activity level, they may experience discomfort for varying reasons.

According to studies, about one in seven American men and women over age 60 will visit their doctor this year for hip pain, accounting for an estimated six million office visits. And many people disregard hip pain symptoms, ignoring the life-limiting effects of this painful condition when effective corrective options are available.

Arthritis, one of the most common causes of hip pain in women, is the inflammation of joints that causes pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is more likely to occur as people age. Symptoms include joint stiffness in the morning, rigidity in the hip after sitting for extended periods of time, a noticeable sound that signals bone-on-bone action within the hip and the inability to perform everyday tasks.

A hip fracture, another cause of hip pain, is a break in the upper part of the femur (thigh) bone and is considered to be the most devastating consequence of osteoporosis-related fractures. Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time, and it is the most common type of bone disease.

Bursitis occurs when "sacs" in the hip that act as cushions between tissue and bone become inflamed. This causes pain in the hip which sometimes runs down the thigh.

Hip pain can be treated effectively with non-invasive techniques such as rest and anti-inflammatory medicines. If surgery is needed, state-of-the-art minimally-invasive options are available.

Dr. Jerome Piontek is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital. Call 314-576-7076.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 4, 2013.