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Can Hip Pain Change How You Walk?

Can Hip Pain Change How You Walk?

We often meet patients who are suffering from hip pain at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

While hip pain has a reputation as an ailment for the elderly, don’t be fooled — about 30%-40% of young adult athletes report chronic hip pain, outpacing the 12%-15% of their senior counterparts over 60 with hip joint pain.

But pain isn’t the only downside of hip problems. Many don’t realize this discomfort can significantly change their gait, meaning how they walk. 

Here, Dr. Bryan King and Dr. Jeffrey Cuomo explain the connection between hip pain and gait and how to prevent the problems from multiplying.

What’s gait?

Your gait is simply the way you walk. It includes things like the length of your strides, how quickly you walk, and how your foot hits the ground. 

Your gait affects your ability to balance, perform physical activities, and keep yourself from falling. Everyone’s gait is unique and even recognizable. For example, John Wayne, Johnny Depp, and Jim Carrey have signature walks — you can spot them even if you can't see their faces. 

How hip pain affects your gait

Hip pain can really mess with your gait. When your hip hurts, you naturally try to lessen the pain by changing how you walk. You might start limping, taking smaller strides, or avoiding putting weight on the side that hurts. 

Over time, these changes can lead to an altered gait and may even cause other issues like lower back pain or knee problems.

Why you should get medical help

If you’re dealing with hip pain that’s affecting your gait, call Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute. 

Ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear, and you could suffer even more complications instead. As orthopedic surgeons, Dr. King and Dr. Cuomo can thoroughly examine you, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend treatment options.

How we treat your hip pain

How we treat your hip pain depends on what’s causing it. Treatment for a fracture is very different from treatment for arthritis, for example. 

However, some of the more common treatments for hip pain include physical therapy, injections, or even surgery. 

Physical therapy improves your strength and flexibility, while injections can temporarily relieve the pain. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to fix the issue causing your pain.

Tips to prevent hip pain

Because hip pain can cause a cascade of problems, it’s a good idea to have a few preventive strategies for avoiding hip pain in the first place. Here are a few winners.

Move more

Nothing beats regular exercise for preventing hip pain. Strengthening the muscles around your hips supports the joint and lubricates it, lessening your risk of pain. It also ensures you won’t favor a painful hip and change your gait.

Lose weight

Carrying extra pounds is unhealthy for several reasons, not the least of which is that it leads to joint pain. Maintaining a healthy weight keeps excess pressure off your hips.

Listen to your body

If your hip hurts, give it a rest. If walking worsens the pain, stop walking. While movement is generally good for your joints, it does more harm than good when you have a damaged or inflamed hip joint.

Seek help

When hip pain hits, don’t wait for it to worsen. We can help you identify and treat the source before the damage progresses. 

Call Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute to schedule an appointment to evaluate your hip pain and gait.

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