In younger patients, an underlying hip deformity or joint problem — such as a tear in the hip labrum, early arthritis, or femoroacetabular impingement — can cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- Activity-related hip pain (especially in the front of the hip or in the groin region)
- Discomfort with prolonged walking, running, pivoting, sitting, hip flexion motion or various other impact activities
Isolated pain in the back or buttock is usually not related to the hip. A soft tissue injury around the hip typically responds to standard nonsurgical treatment in six to eight weeks. If symptoms last three to four months, a hip joint problem may be the cause.
Diagnosing Young Adult Hip Problems
Advances in technology are leading to earlier detection of hip problems. At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, orthopedic specialists perform a thorough patient evaluation to obtain an accurate diagnosis of symptoms and formulate a treatment plan. Evaluation of hip problems in young adults may include the following components:
- History and physical examination
- Radiographic series (x-rays) of the hip
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
- CT (computed tomography) scan
Why Is Early Diagnosis So Important?
Younger patients with hip symptoms often have a hip deformity or hip joint disorder that isn't easily recognized. As a result, patients may not get a definite diagnosis and may go for an extended period of time without treatment. Most hip conditions will cause limitation of activity and can lead to the development of early arthritis.
Early diagnosis and intervention is extremely important to minimize symptoms and prevent premature onset of hip joint deterioration. Osteoarthritis, for example, is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the joint, ultimately leading to the need for a hip joint replacement procedure.
However, if caught early, many hip problems may be corrected, and the natural hip joint may be preserved to avoid a hip replacement procedure at a young age.