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The hip joint is the largest joint of the body. Even though it can withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear, it isn’t indestructible. The cartilage can wear down, causing damage. The muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused and the bones in the hip can break.
Hip injuries are one of the most common injuries at the workplace. Whether the injury was from a vehicle accident, walking into walls, doors, cabinets, etc., slipping, tripping or falling, or by overexertion or repetitive acts, these injuries cannot only limit mobility, they can be painful and may need years of hip therapy or even surgery.
The following are the most common workplace hip injuries:
• Hip fractures – A traumatic fall, blow, or equipment/car accident can cause a hip fractures. These may require surgery and rehabilitation, and can result in loss of mobility and pain.
• Hip strains – This is usually due to overexertion to the hip joint by repetitive activities is the main cause of hip strains.
• Post-traumatic arthritis – Post-traumatic arthritis caused by a traumatic injury to the joint like a fracture or fall. A repeated, penetrative, or blunt injury can lead to damage of the hip cartilage and can cause significant pain.
• Tendinitis – Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons, the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Repetitive stress from overuse is the general cause tendinitis.
• Bursitis – A bursa is the sack of fluid that sits between the pelvis and leg to reduce friction and allow free movement of the leg. If inflamed then the leg becomes very painful to move due to the swelling in the hip. Caused usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint. This type of injury will usually heal itself over a period of weeks.
• Osteoarthritis – Hip osteoarthritis (OA) caused by joint damage, resulting in pain and stiffness. This damage can accumulate over time and is the biggest cause for hip replacement.
• Dislocation – A dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the femur slips out of the socket, causing severe pain and inability to move the leg. It usually takes a strong force from something like a hard fall, to cause a dislocated hip.
Over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can usually relieve hip pain caused by a muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis. There are also injections administered by doctors to help reduce pain.
Exercising the hip joint with low-impact exercises, stretching, and resistance training can reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Physical therapy can also help increase your range of motion.
For a gentler approach, a few natural therapies used to help treat hip arthritis include acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage, and supplements like turmeric and ginger.
If these conservative treatments haven’t helped and sitting and sleeping become unbearably uncomfortable, hip surgery to reposition or replace the hip joint may be the best option.
A total hip replacement, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is the most common type of hip surgery and is an extremely safe and effective procedure.
To understand a total hip replacement it is helpful to understand the anatomy of the hip a little. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball, femoral head, is the upper end of the femur/thighbone. The bone surfaces of the ball and socket and covered with cartilage, a smooth tissue that cushions the ends of the bones and enables easy movement. Synovial membrane is a thin tissue surrounding the hip joint. It creates a small amount of fluid lubricating the cartilage and removes any hip friction. Ligaments connect the ball to the socket and provide joint stability.
For a total hip replacement, prosthetic components replace the damaged bones and cartilage. A metal stem placed into the hollow center of the femur. In the upper part of the metal stem, a ceramic or metal ball used to replace the femoral head. Metal sockets then used to replace damaged cartilage on the surface of the acetabulum/socket. Last, a plastic, ceramic or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and socket to allow for smooth movement.
A hip replacement can be a major pain reliever, helping the hip joint to function better, improving walking, stability and movement.
If you need help with a hip injury or anything else related to Illinois workers’ compensation law, please do not hesitate to contact us.