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arthritis...what does it feel like?

Posted by Linda V on 5/03/05 at 15:25 (174192)

You hear about it, but don't know what it really feels like. I am only 50, yet I have become bothered at night by pain in my right hip and right thigh area. It feels like a deep burning ache, especially if I lay on that side, or when I turn. The pain is deep, feels like its almost to the bone. I wonder if this is arthritis, or something else. Having just moved and not yet finding a doctor...I don't want to jump the gun and complain. I wonder if its tied to my PF and poor body mechanics. I am fine during the day and can do my Pilates, even a bit of low impact aerobics. But NITE time is a misery. Any ideas?

Re: arthritis...what does it feel like?

Ralph on 5/03/05 at 16:06 (174195)

I'm not a doctor and the first thing I would suggest is that you see one for a complete exam to determine exactly what you have. I had similar symptoms and found out it was bursitis which was taken care of in physical therapy. My doctor suggested that first and would have used a steroid if it was necessary to clear it up.

Please remember although my symptoms were similar to what you are describing everyone needs to be examined by a physician so you can get an exact diagnosis and receive proper treatment. The burning pain I had would wake me up at night. No day time problem. I would turn over and that worked for a while until I developed the same symptoms in the other hip.

Get in to see a doctor and hopefully yours will turn out to be simply bursitis too.

Re: arthritis...or could it be bursitis?

Linda V on 5/03/05 at 20:51 (174205)

I didn't know bursitis could present in the hip area..my Dad and brother have had it in the shoulders...very painful. Also didn't know PT could help it..something to consider. Being a nurse, I don't want to pick my doctor by thumbing through the yellow pages in our new area. I have interviewed for a job, and am hoping that if and when I get it..I can rely on my 'sisters' to recommend a good doc for a primary. Of course, being a nurse, (oncology) my first self-diagnosis thoughts are very dire and evil. Don't even want to tell you..lets just say I started at mets and worked my way down to osteo. Thats just the way a nurses mind works.
Meanwhile....will try gentle stretches as I am sure my right hip and quad area is tighter than my left. Thanks for your input--appreciate it. Glad you are better.

Re: arthritis...or could it be bursitis?

Necee on 5/04/05 at 00:05 (174210)

Linda, my mom had Rhumatoid arthritis. With that type, it's more of an aching in the joints. She complained of stiffness as well, but it was mostly hurting in the joints that bothered her the most.
Good luck, and hope you get to feeling better soon.


Re: Some suggestions

Julie on 5/04/05 at 01:19 (174213)

Linda, you have my sympathies, especially with your diagnosis-horrors. Anyone who has had cancer or worked with cancer patients starts with mets (I always do that :) ). But it probably isn't that. There is a good likelihood that your new hip and thigh pain are related to your PF, as you suspect.

When there is pain in one area of the body, the body compensates, and other areas take the brunt of the compensatory actions. If you've been favouring your PF foot for any length of time - limping, changing your gait even subtly - there will almost certainly have been a knock-on effect higher up. Knees, hips, and lower back can all be affected. The pain in your hip joint could be from too much pressure going into the joint, causing inflammation. It could also be coming from your lower back: once the lower back is out of alignment (uneven walking can cause this) there can be pressure on a spinal nerve, or nerves, and your pain in the hip and thigh (is it at the back or the front?) could be referred pain from a compressed nerve.

Whatever the cause, I hope you find a doctor soon so that you can start getting it all checked out. Meanwhile, here are a few suggestions.

If you can, stay off your feet for awhile and see if resting helps. There are differences of opinion about rest as a treatment for PF, but once the joints higher up start getting compromised, rest is important for them, too.

You say the pain comes on at night. What kind of mattress are you sleeping on? I would suggest that you investigate memory foam (Tempurpedic is the best-known manufacturer). If you don't know about memory foam, it is a material into which the larger areas of the body, the shoulders and hips, sink to a depth that allows the spine to be supported in correct alignment. Memory foam mattresses are expensive, but definitely state-of-the-art for sufferers of back and hip pain.

You might like to try alternating ice and heat: ten minutes with an ice pack on the painful area, followed by ten minutes with a hot water bottle, and a final ten minutes with the ice pack. The cold treatment reduces inflammation, the warmth eases the associated muscle spasm. This helped me significantly during my sufferings with my ruptured disc last winter.

Take whatever pain meds help so that you can sleep. When the pain is severe, try not to 'fight' it: that creates muscular tension, which will make it worse. As much as you can, accept the pain, and breathe into it, remembering to exhale fully, which will help you to relax and release it.

I hope this is helpful.

Re: arthritis...what does it feel like?

John H on 5/04/05 at 09:51 (174222)

An MRI or X-Ray seems to be in order Linda. Hip pain is very common and more often than not is associated with arthritis at your age. It even effects young athletes. I have a Doctor friend who's wife has had both hips replaced because of a congenital problem. Both of her children inherited the same problem and both will have their hips replaced. My buddy who was a big time athlete at the U. of Arkansas had his hip replaced which was a result of a lifetime of basketball. Bo Jackson the famous football/baseball players had hips replaced in his early 30's due to a common problem of decreased blood flow to some area of the hip. My wife has an ongoing hip problem at the SI joint. Swimming helps her. I have some pain in my knee from a lifetime of sports. Once again do go to an orthopedic specialist (some specialize in hips) and he/she should be able to diagnosis your problem promptly with with an MRI or even an x-ray. You may need nothing more than an anti inflamatory and some physical therapy. The odds are much in your favor at your age that it is wear and tear as this can present with pain at night. Some days my wife's hip is much worse than others but for the most part once she found out what the problem was it hurts much less. Do make sure as all women should take the proper vitimins and food to ward off osteoporosis. Bone loss in the hips is responsible for many hip problems. Have you ever had a bone density test? Not expensive and I would think a must for women in particular after age 50. When new pains show up as we age it is likely most of us will think the worst. Do not go through all the worry and just get a prompt diagnoiss and live your life. You are still a young woman.

Re: Some suggestions

Kathy G on 5/04/05 at 09:55 (174223)


So far, I don't have arthritis in my hips, at least that I know about. However, I get a similar pain in my left hip. I can't help you with the cause because I don't have a clue what causes it. It burns and and feels like nerve pain, similar to sciatica. I've been getting it for over ten years and the sometimes I think it happens when I've walked a great deal during the day but that isn't always the case. It just comes and goes but it hurts so much that it often forces me to get up much earlier than usual. For example, this morning I was awake at five and up at seven due to the pain. Once I get up and moving, it goes away. I've never mentioned it to anyone but my chiropractor and he doesn't know what causes it.

I do get it much less often since we bought our memory foam mattress. Ours isn't a Tempurpedic but a Nature's Rest. We preferred it to the former.

I hope it goes away soon and I wish you the best of luck on the job!

Gee, I was so helpful, wasn't I? :)

Re: Hip pain similarities

Necee on 5/04/05 at 11:44 (174232)

While reading these posts regarding hip pain, I noticed several similarities.

I too have hip pain, always on my right side, the left side never hurts me. It seems that those who suffer from PF complain of the same type of problem...lower back, and hip pain. It makes sense what Julie said about our bodies compensating for that pain. Exercise and movement always helps me, but when I over do it, my hip feels stressed, it feels very tense. If I'm on my feet and walking too much, I can feel the pain getting worse, so I have to rest. I was hoping getting a new mattress would help, it has to a certain extent, but I still wake every morning very stiff, after I get to moving, I'm much better, guess that's just part of getting older :( As many of you know, I could have never made it without getting Birks, that was the start on the road to recovery for me.

I'm curious as to how many of you with PF also suffer with some sort of lower back and hip pain. It's all related that's for sure.


Re: Hip pain similarities

Julie on 5/04/05 at 14:24 (174243)

Necee, there's a remedy for waking up stiff in the mornings - most people do after a certain age (which varies a bit with the individual:) ). I always do 10 or 15 minutes exercise before I get out of bed: the foot yoga exercises, the equivalent exercises for the hands (stretching and clenching the fingers, bending and rotating the wrists). These wake up the circulation and get energy flowing. Then I do a few gentle back lifts (just the pelvis and lower back), a spinal rotation (alternating taking the knees to either side a few times) and finish with some knee hugs. All this gets the lower back and pelvis moving. By the time I get out of bed most of the stiffness is gone. A warm shower takes care of the rest.

Re: arthritis...and bone denisty scans

Linda V on 5/04/05 at 15:00 (174248)

Yes, you are right than an xray at the very least should be done to see what the problem is. I have had 2 bone density studys done. I have borderline osteopenia...but no change for the worse in 2 years. I take calcium since I could not tolerate the Fosamax. I didn't have a problem with turning 40, or even 50. The numbers don't bother me. But I guess I AM having a hard time accepting the fact that age brings on some nasty changes to our health. Thanks for your input.

Re: Hip pain similarities

Carole C in NOLA on 5/04/05 at 19:22 (174269)

Necee, I have pain in my left hip that comes from my lower back and hurts when I go to bed. It doesn't hurt if I lie flat on my back, but I can't sleep that way.

It seems to have improved somewhat as I lose weight (71 pounds in the last 16 months). But if I wrench my hip (like I did last weekend, getting into Frank's pickup truck) it hurts more. Ow.

I haven't had PF pain in a long time by now. You can't win. At least this pain is a lot milder than PF was, for me. Still, it keeps me awake a lot and wakes me up in the morning.

Carole C

Re: Hip pain similarities

Necee on 5/05/05 at 00:44 (174282)

Thank you Julie for the exercise tips. I will be doing those exercises for sure every morning. It makes sense to stretch, and wake up those muscles and joints before getting out of bed.


Re: Hip pain similarities

Julie on 5/05/05 at 04:21 (174290)

It really helps me, Necee, and I hope it helps you. The only difficulty is, if you're the kind of person who likes to jump out of bed and get on with the day, as I imagine you are, it can be hard to hold your horses while doing your bed exercises. ;)