Ask Your Physical Therapist: If I limp with a painful hip, do I need a hip replacement?
Ask Your Physical Therapist

Ask Your Physical Therapist: If I limp with a painful hip, do I need a hip replacement?

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My hip is painful and causes me to limp. Do I need a hip replacement?

Well, first of all, it depends on how old you are.

If you are younger than 60 years old, most surgeons will exhaust all other options before recommending a hip replacement. This is the case since it is likely that those younger than 60 will outlive the lifetime of the hip replacement and would need another.

It would need to be determined that the pain in the hip is actually coming from the hip. For instance, the pain in the hip could be coming from the low back. If there is pressure on a disc or nerve root in the lower spine, this can cause pain to radiate to the hip.

Actually, when this happens, sometimes you have no pain in your back at all and only notice the pain in the hip (despite the fact that the pain is coming from the back).

Also, the pain in a hip could be the result of a muscle pull or strain of a muscle or muscles surrounding the hip and/or buttock – which of course would not require surgery. In addition, there are other reasons for hip pain: stress fracture, a tear in the tissue that connects the ball of the hip to the hip socket (called the labrum), and tightness of the hip joint capsule (tissue overtop of the labrum that surrounds the hip ball and socket and keeps the hip joint in place and keeps the hip ball and socket from becoming unstable).

The physical therapists at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy are trained to perform an evaluation in which they check a person’s range of motion and strength surrounding the hips, legs and core. In addition, special tests are performed that help us determine the cause of pain. These special tests tell us the cause of the hip pain, whether it’s stress fracture, muscle strain or severe arthritis that requires surgery.

Often times, even if you have hip joint arthritis, stretching the hip joint capsule as well as stretching and strengthening the muscles around the hip can reduce the hip pain and improve function enough to allow the patient to avoid hip replacement. Following evaluation as mentioned above, the physical therapist will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for physical therapy versus a surgery.

Those who are having trouble walking without a limp, sitting in chairs or driving, climbing stairs due to hip pain or getting back to exercising, can call Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy to schedule your free screen so that one of our therapists can help you resolve your hip pain or guide you to what will.

Feel free to email me at with any questions you may have regarding this column or if you have any questions you would like me to answer.

Steve Miller is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy and can be reached by email at His column will appear bi-monthly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and on


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