The onset of hip pain may be out of your control. According to a recent study, babies with low birth weights and those born prematurely are at greater risk of developing hip pain, and eventually needing hip replacement surgery.
They are more likely to be diagnosed with conditions like hip arthritis, which can cause severe hip pain and decreased range of motion in the joint, Australian researchers found.
The study involved 3,604 patients, 116 of whom required knee replacement, the New York Times reported in its “Well” blog. Seventy-five of the participants were osteoarthritis sufferers, older than 40, who underwent hip arthroplasty. The results were published in the online library “Arthritis Care & Research.”
The researchers took into account factors like age, gender, body-mass index, education level, hypertension, smoking and physical activity. They concluded that premature or preterm birth (defined as three weeks sooner than a normal 40-week pregnancy) doubled the odds of needing hip replacement as an adult. The risk for low birth-weight babies was 250% of the average patient. No link to knee replacement was determined.
“The reasons are unclear, but there is some evidence that prematurity and low birth weight can result in abnormal hip development or lower bone mineral density,” the Times reported. Nicholas Bakalar’s blog noted that the study marks the first time that premature birth has been associated with hip arthritis.
“There isn’t enough evidence now to change practice, but we know that congenital hip disease in children can proceed to osteoarthritis later,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Flavia M. Cicuttini of Monash University in Melbourne, told Bakalar. “It may be that eventually we will introduce simple interventions for all premature infants, like the double-diapering that is now recommended for much more serious congenital hip deformations.”
The conditions that are most often responsible for hip pain are:
1. Hip arthritis, which results from the deterioration of cartilage that covers the pelvic and femur bones that join to form the joint. This protective lining wears away, causing the inflammation that leads to osteoarthritis.
2. Hip bursitis, which occurs when bursa sacs that lubricate the hip joint and surrounding muscles become inflamed from injury or overuse.
3. Muscle strain, which can result from irritation or overuse of any of the three muscle groups that enable the hip to make its various movements.
4. Nerve irritation, such as sciatica, which features sharp pains in the back of the leg and outer thigh.
Other hip ailments include labral tears, ITB syndrome, femoral head avascular necrosis, hip impingement syndrome and snapping hip syndrome.
In most cases, hip pain and its causes are effectively treated with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. When these methods are insufficient in relieving pain and restoring joint function, hip replacement may be warranted.
The surgery, also called hip arthroplasty, involves removing damaged bone and cartilage, then implanting prosthetic devices. While most hip-replacement patients are between the ages of 50 and 80, the procedure also helps juvenile arthritis victims and seniors with degenerative arthritis.
Indications that hip replacement could be needed include pain in the hip or groin that makes walking difficult, pain even while the hip is at rest, stiffness that limits range of motion, inability to easily climb stairs, and severely restricted walking distance without pain.