As we age, it’s increasingly common to experience pain in the hips. However, many hip pain sufferers never seek out treatment for the condition, either assuming that nothing much can be done, or that a total hip replacement would be the only course of action. The encouraging truth is that only about 1 percent of the general population will be told they need a hip replacement. For everyone else, handling hip pain starts by reckoning with the problem, meeting with a specialist, and following a treatment plan customized to their unique circumstances. All of these things can be achieved right here in the Orthopedic Services department at Southeastern Med.
As an experienced Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Bill Kumler has helped countless patients reduce their chronic hip pain, and not necessarily in the way you’d expect. “Even though we are called surgeons,” Dr. Kumler explains, “Orthopedic Surgeons do not perform surgery on the majority of patients we see in the office. We are musculoskeletal experts for both surgical and non-surgical treatment.”
Unless you’ve broken your hip, it might be hard to know whether your level of hip pain is severe enough to warrant scheduling an appointment with a physician. Generally, erring on the side of caution is always wise anyway, but Dr. Kumler does say there are some good rules of thumb when it comes to assessing your condition.
“Any pain can potentially signal a serious problem,” he says. “The pain that is most concerning, though, would be pain that is constant, severe, and worse when you put weight on the hip; anything that prevents you from moving the hip through a normal range of motion. If it is affecting your daily activities, your ability to walk (such as needing a cane, crutch or walker that you didn’t need before), or tied to other symptoms like a fever or chills . . . these would all be good reasons to have a physician evaluate the problem as soon as possible.”
It’s also important to remember that, in some cases, a serious hip condition can affect us in ways we would never guess.
“In children and adults,” Dr. Kumler explains, “some people can have severe knee pain without perceiving hip pain, and the problem can actually be the hip. I have seen patients who have been seen multiple times for knee pain in other offices, have one or more normal knee x-rays, then come to our office frustrated that nobody can fix their knee—only to find out they actually have a hip problem rather than a knee problem. The same issue applies for patients who come to see me for hip or knee problems and find out that the problem was in their back all along.”
In Dr. Kumler’s experience, arthritis is often the main culprit when it comes to hip pain, particularly for older patients. In many of these cases, surgery is not necessary. Instead, many patients find good results simply by staying active and pushing through mild to moderate hip pain through low impact walking, biking, swimming, yoga, and other exercises, along with various non-operative treatment options.
These same activities can prove equally beneficial for patients who do opt for surgery, as keeping their weight down and staying active will often give them better long term results and functionality following a hip replacement.
In the end, according to Dr. Kumler, “the decision whether or not to get a replacement is a personal decision, made by each patient, with the help and guidance of qualified physicians. If the pain of arthritis prevents you from sleeping, walking, or being as active as you would like; if you are missing out on ‘life’ and activities you would like to do with your family: then you may be a good candidate for a hip replacement.”
To determine the best course of action for your own hip pain, contact one of our Orthopedic specialists today.