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Hip Problems – The Process of Diagnosis

Hip Problems – The Process of Diagnosis

If you thought that the only function of the hips was to connect our upper body with the lower, then, you’re wrong. Hips do much more than that.  In scientific terms, the hip is a joint which connects the torso to the legs in the body of a human being.  Hips are an integral part of our body. They shoulder the weight of our entire body, both while we are still, and while we are in motion. Apart from that, our balance is highly dependent on our hips. In fact, most of the muscles that we use for mobility such as walking and running are also located in the same area.  Hip problems can affect anybody. It doesn’t depend on age, growth or any other factor. There are some forms of hip problems that affect a person with age and there are also other hip problems which can affect a person of any age for that matter. Diagnosing hip problems usually depends on primarily two symptoms: pain and some level of immobility.  There are a lot of questions which need to be answered and also quite a few tests which need to be checked by the doctor so that the exact cause of the pain can be known and then adequate treatment can be given to the patient.    

Physical Exam:  One of the first steps in the procedure of diagnosis of hip problems is the physical exam, where a patient is asked to answer a set of questions which a doctor asks. 

Some Of  Those Questions Are:

  • What are the symptoms which are being experienced by the patient?
  • Are the symptoms worse post any activity or work?
  • Since when has the patient been experiencing these symptoms of hip problems?
  • Was there any illness or did the patient meet with an accident post which the symptoms started showing up?
  • Are there any family members who have a history of Arthritis?
  • Are there any other medical ailments which the patient has which could be causing these problems?

These are some of the questions which the patient needs to answer so that the doctor can understand the depth of the symptoms and possibly get a rough idea of what may be causing the pain to occur.  During the physical exam, the doctor needs to touch the hip area of the patient and check where the pain is the most and where it is the least as well. The doctor will be mainly looking for areas in the hip region which are tender, swollen or which give an indication where the joint may be damaged.  The patient also will need to stand and move the hip joint which will determine the range of motion of the hip and how well can the patient move it.  The next step of the diagnosis will be lab tests and imaging tests depending on what the doctor finds out as a diagnosis during the physical exam.  

Lab Tests For Hip Problems:  The lab tests, which form the next step in the diagnosis of hip problems, are highly important as there are many diseases or conditions which can be ruled out or confirmed as a diagnosis of the hip problem faced by the patient.  In the lab test, the doctor will extract some of the blood, if the tests reveal high levels of a rheumatoid factor then there is a chance that the hip pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis.  Other tests of fluid which are drawn from the joint with a needle may show some crystals of uric acid which confirms a diagnosis of gout or bacteria which is causing an infection in the joint and the pain and joint inflammation is a result of that particular infection.    

Imaging Tests For Hip Pain: The next test which forms the last step of diagnosis is the Imaging Tests which are conducted for the patient. The imaging tests allow the doctor to see inside the hip joint and without any kind of pain. There are various machines which take high-resolution images of the joint is usually a black and white format.    

Some Of The Imaging Tests Are:X-Ray(Radiography) 

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An X-ray image is basically a simple test where an X-ray beam is passed through the hip of the patient to create a two-dimensional black and white picture of the bones which constitute the joint.      

Computerised Axial Tomography     

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CAT scan is again a non-invasive test but more advanced than the X-ray. It gives multiple images of the hip to form a three-dimensional image of the hip joint.   

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 

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This method uses a high powered magnetic to produce and create a black and white image of the hip joint. The MRI image shows the cartilage and soft tissues so it becomes easier for the doctor to check for any injuries in the tissues of the hip.  In the end, a patient needs to consult with a reputed orthopaedic surgeon and also select a hospital or a clinic so that all these imaging tests are possible so as to allow the doctor to understand and diagnose the cause of the pain down to the core.

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