Every year more than 150,000 people in the Untied States alone undergo hip-replacement surgery. Many of these surgeries could be postponed or avoided altogether, however, with proper hip care. Here are the essentials.
1. Get a bone density scan if you are a woman over 50 or a man over 60.
The leading cause of hip fractures is osteoporosis, the gradual thinning of bone that strikes both men and women as they age. In its early stages osteoporosis does not cause pain, so medical diagnosis is essential. As your doctor to order a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) procedure if you have risk factors, especially if you are a man or a woman who has ever used steroids, you have fair skin or work at night, or if you are a woman past menopause. The DEXA scan detects bone loss at its earliest stages and will give you an early start on treatment.
2. Do your best to maintain a healthful weight.
With every step you take, your hips bear three times your body weight. Every pound you lose takes three pounds pressure off your hips.
3. Avoid high-impact exercise.
Jogging, running, basketball, and squash can cause problems if your hips are weak. That's why you need low-impact exercise at least half of your sessions during the weak. Walking strengthens the abductor muscles in the outer thigh that hold the body straight and upright. Moving the hips gently helps maintain the circulation that nourishes cartilage.
4. Try water exercise.
Workouts in the pool are the safest form of exercise for fragile hips. You get all the benefits of moving your hips through their full range of motion while water holds up your body, minimizing stress. Standing in waist-high water reduces the stress on hips by about 50 per cent. Standing in chest-deep water reduces the stress on hips by about 70 per cent. Just walking backward and forward in a swimming pool is great exercise for your hips. If they begin to hurt, just move to deeper water.
5. Watch your posture.
Try not to sway or stoop when you walk. Poor posture adds pressure to the hips, and the additional pressure increases risk for fractures and falls. To see if posture is a problem, try walking toward a full-length mirror. If you sway from side to side, there is a high probability that the abductor muscles of your outer thighs need conditions.
And finally, don't ignore hip pain.l When pain flares up, try gentle moist heat several times a day to reduce inflammation to injured hip joints. If you have persistent hip pain, go to your physician for advice.