Dear Doc | Worried about strange pain
Q I am 65 years old and I have been waking up with pain to the right side of my belly bottom. The pain makes it difficult to walk. I still force myself to move around, and it feels a little better until I sit down again for a little while then it comes back. I stopped seeing my period a long time ago, so what could be causing this?
A I have had patients with similar complaints and when I tell them what is causing it, they often don’t believe me; but I do believe you are having arthritis pains of your hip joint.
Arthritis means ‘joint inflammation’. It causes pain and swelling to joints, such as the knees or hips. There are many types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common, and it develops as people get older.
Osteoarthritis causes pain, swelling, and deformity to the affected joint, and these changes usually occur slowly over many years.
Persons who have osteoarthritis of the hip often have problems walking. Diagnosing it can be difficult at first because the pain can occur in different locations, such as the groin (right or left side of the belly bottom), the thigh, the buttocks, or the knee. The pain can be stabbing and sharp, or it can be a dull, aching pain. The hip is often stiff, making it difficult to walk.
The causes of osteoarthritis of the hip are not known; however, things such as joint injury, increasing age, and being overweight may contribute.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
The symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip can include any of the following symptoms:
Joint stiffness that occurs when you get out of bed in the morning.
Joint stiffness after you sit for a long time.
Pain, swelling, or tenderness to the hip joint.
A sound or feeling of bone rubbing/grating against bone.
Difficulty moving the hip to perform routine activities, such as putting on your socks.
There is no single test for diagnosing osteoarthritis, but it is often diagnosed after an abnormal X-ray of the joint shows the characteristic features of narrowing of the joint and spurring of the joint margins. Before sending you for an X-ray, our doctor will ask you questions relating to your symptoms, then perform a physical examination. This will include checking how your hip is functioning and may uncover a reduction in motion of the affected joint.
The main goal of treating osteoarthritis of the hip is to improve your mobility (ability to move/walk around), improving the function of the hip and controlling pain. Treatment can involve:
Rest and joint care.
Use of a walking stick to help take the weight off the affected hip.
Losing excess weight.
Medications, such as acetaminophen/paracetamol (Tylenol); a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil); or prescription pain medication.
One way of helping to prevent osteoarthritis of the hip is to maintain a healthy weight.
In addition, you should exercise. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles around joints. This strengthening can help prevent wear and tear on the joint.
If you believe that these symptoms apply to what you are experiencing, see your doctor so that you can be properly assessed and begin treatment before it worsens.