Physical Stress vs. Mental Stress
The tensions and stress of modern life takes their toll on everyone. Mental stress is usually the focus of most conversations, but physical stress is far more harmful in the long run. Why is this so? The main reason that physical stress affects you more is because stress-busting in this area takes time and effort – something that most people don’t have the luxury of affording.
Mental stress is as easy to get rid of as listening to your favorite music or watching a comedy film, but physical stress builds up and builds up until your system can take it no longer – and the only way to get rid of it is through physical intervention by surgery, therapy or other intensive methods.
Hip to the Pain: Sources and Causes
The human hip joint is a masterpiece of design. It is subject to wear and tear for an average of 70 years, it allows an amazing amount of flexibility and its movement is extremely fluid when it is in good shape.
However, despite its robust design, it is far from indestructible. As age progresses or use increases, the functionality of the hip joint may reduce. As a result, even normal use can result in hip pain over a period of time. Since the joint itself is supported by muscles, tendons and cartilage, damage to any of these parts can result in hip pain.
There are several causes for hip pain, and being able to identify those means being able to treat them in a more effective way. Here are some of the main causes of hip pain:
Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the main culprits here. In older adults, this is actually one of the predominant causes of hip pain. Over time, wear and tear breaks down the cartilage that cushions friction in the joint during movement.
The loss of this valuable cartilage causes the bones to rub directly against each other, and this is the main reason for the pain. In addition, there may be stiffness in the joint, and normal movement can often be impeded.
Hip fractures are also usually associated with aging. As a person becomes older, the bones become weak and brittle, leading to hairline fractures that are certain to cause pain. Often, people may not even realize that they have these minor fractures, and the level of pain may vary. This is definitely an area that should be investigated, especially if age is against you.
Surrounding the muscles and tendons are fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When these bursae are affected by any kind of inflammation from overworking the joint or performing repeated, intense movements, it can result in pain.
Tendons are thick bands that connect muscle to bone. Overuse of the hip joint can cause irritation or inflammation of these tendons, again leading to a painful condition.
Aside from these main causes, there may be other sources of pain, such as bone cancer or other types of cancer that have spread to the bone. Osteonecrosis is another known culprit; this happens when blood supply to the bone is cut off for some reason, leading to the death of bone cells (yes, bones are made of living cells) and subsequent pain in the hip. Tendon or muscle strain can also be causes of hip pain, especially when they have been strained unnaturally or for prolonged periods.
Caring for Your Hip at Home
Home care is usually sufficient to get rid of hip pain unless the pain or restriction of movement is severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. Prevention, as in most cases, is always better than cure, and here are some tips that will help preserve your hip joints for many years to come:
Tip #1: Warm up before physical exercise
It is imperative that you warm up your joints before any type of intense physical exercise or sport. Stretching is a critical part of warming up, and it ensures that your tendons and muscles are ready to handle the strain before you jump into rigorous exercise straight away. The hamstrings and quadriceps are especially susceptible to injury during exercise and sports.
Tip #2: Avoid high-impact activities
Running and jogging are high-impact activities that should be avoided unless you are a professional or have been doing it for a long time. The jarring impact can be harmful to the hip joint, and excessive exertion can also lead to complications with tendons and muscles. Try swimming or cycling because these are zero or low-impact options. If you’re a regular at a gym, opt for elliptical exercise equipment instead of treadmills. Although treadmills are usually cushioned to reduce the impact, it does not completely eliminate it.
Tip #3: Lose weight
If you are overweight, this could be causing strain in your muscles and tendons, leading to hip pain. Consult a specialist about the right way to reduce weight without high-impact exercises such as running and skipping. Again, cycling is a good option, as is swimming, brisk walking and other low-impact activities.
Tip #4: Always use proper footwear
If you have flat feet, it can cause problems with your back and hips if you don’t use proper footwear. Arch supports or inserts should be able to give your foot the right kind of support, even when walking.
Tip #5: Reduce your activity level
If you are regularly engaged in intense physical activity, the chances of developing hip pain are greater. Of course, there is no certain way to predict this, but why take the chance? Physical activity should be balanced with the right amount of rest so that your joints, muscles, tendons and bones have a chance to recuperate in between intense sessions. Rest is an essential part of good health as much as physical exercise.
When to Visit a Medical Professional
If the preventive measures do not help you avoid the onset of hip pain, then the question of when to visit a doctor is a fairly simple one to answer: when the pain becomes unmanageable and home care does not seem to help. The word ‘unmanageable’ depends on the pain threshold of a particular person; while a small nick on the finger qualifies as unmanageable for one, only a major fracture might fall in that category for another. The key criterion is whether the pain affects your lifestyle. If it does, then a doctor’s appointment is in order.