How can I keep my hip joints healthy?
October 10, 2005 11:53 AM   Subscribe

BadJointsFilter: I'm predisposed to bad hip joints (my mother had one replaced a few years ago and my grandmother had both replaced) and will occasionally have a really achy hip day. What are some things I can do to keep my hips as healthy as possible for as long as possible?

I've been thinking about glucosamine/chondroiton pills but would like to hear from people who have benefitted from them. I work out regularly, ride my bike between 10-20 miles a week and lift weights 3 times a week. When I ride my motorcycle sometimes, I get what I can only describe as hip-joint cramps where it feels like someone's holding a blowtorch to the muscles deep in my leg up close to my groin. And yes, it does hurt like a bugger. The only thing that can alleviate it sometimes is getting off the bike and walking around for a few minutes.

I'd like to find out if there's anything I can do to keep my hip joints in shape or if I should start picking out my replacement joints now?
posted by fenriq to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yoga. Go to a class or two and learn poses that will help stretch your hips. Your hips are likely to be strong but tight due to all the cycling you do.
posted by smich at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2005

I'll second the yoga. There are about five or six relatively easy poses that can really open up your hip joints. It'll get some blood flow in there, loosen up the ligaments, and you don't have to be a yoga nerd to do them.
posted by Specklet at 12:15 PM on October 10, 2005

Second smich's idea of yoga - I didn't believe it until I tried it - had always through yoga was lame, but I have arthritic hips and it helps a LOT.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 12:16 PM on October 10, 2005

My hips ached almost daily (and nightly) before I started taking glucosamine about 4 months ago. Now I get achiness maybe a few days a month. So rare I hardly think about it anymore.

So it worked for me.
posted by culberjo at 12:55 PM on October 10, 2005

I don't want to start an inter-yoga flame war, but make sure you find someone that really knows the anatomy and isn't some exercise-fad instructor. A bad yoga instructor can do lots of damage.
posted by jmgorman at 1:03 PM on October 10, 2005

As yet, you can do little from a preventative standpoint to combat one of the major causes (avascular necrosis or AVN) of hip joint problems, other than avoid smoking, SCUBA diving, excessive alcohol, and use of steroids. If you are in fact predisposed the condition, the problem basically resolves to a poor "design feature" of the human body, in that the top of the femur, which is the "ball" of the hip joint, is served by a single blood vessel. If this vessel becomes occluded, as it does in 70% of people who eventually require replacement hip surgery, the top of the femur dies, and pain sets in, as the cartilage needed for smooth joint function wears rapidly away.

If your hip joints are painful already, and you believe or know you are predisposed, get to a competent orthopedic surgeon for evaluation as soon as you can. If you catch the necrotic process early enough, some surgical interventions are possible which are far less invasive than hip replacement, and which may preserve all or most of the femoral head, forestalling more extensive total hip replacement surgery, if and when the disease progresses.

But AVN is not the only disease process that causes pain and failure of the hip joint, and you'll need good diagnostic care to sort out whatever problems are causing you pain. Time is not your ally in this, and if you are in enough pain regularly to be posting this question here, please do not waste yet more time trying homebrew remedies or exercise, until you know that AVN and related necrotic processes have been ruled out medically.

I am not a doctor. But I am a former smoker & SCUBA diver, who has 2 completely artificial hip joints thanks to AVN, and 6 months of misdiagnosis and erroneous treatment as a person suffering from sciatic nerve inflammation.
posted by paulsc at 1:17 PM on October 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't want to start an inter-yoga flame war, but make sure you find someone that really knows the anatomy and isn't some exercise-fad instructor. A bad yoga instructor can do lots of damage.

Strongly seconded. If your instructor tries to get people to do arm stands on the first day of class, don't go back.
posted by jennyb at 1:25 PM on October 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Try excluding wheat from your diet for a couple of weeks, and see how you feel.
posted by zadcat at 1:41 PM on October 10, 2005

As an avid scuba diver myself, I'm curious why diving would predispose you to AVN.
posted by nekton at 7:09 PM on October 10, 2005

Once you've got the AVN thing checked out, try an inversion table. I bought mine from a local second-hand store for AU$110.

I'm a fat man who used to cycle-commute when I was thinner. I knew right away that hanging upside down was a Good Thing for me; the bliss as my chronically stiff right hip loosened itself was worth ten times the purchase price.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2005

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