Hip osteoarthritis is often thought of as a disease that only seniors get, but this is just a myth. In fact, professional hockey players have developed it at young ages due to their time on the ice. Here are three things hockey players need to know about hip osteoarthritis.
How does hockey lead to hip osteoarthritis?
Hockey leads to hip osteoarthritis due to overuse of the joint. Your hip joint is lined with cartilage, and this cartilage cushions both your hip socket and the ball of your hip joint while you skate. After years of playing hockey, the cartilage can start to wear down. This allows the bones to rub against each other while you skate, leading to pain.
What are the signs of hip osteoarthritis?
If you have hip osteoarthritis, your hip joint will hurt when you're skating, and the pain may continue once you're off the ice. When you skate, you may notice that you're less flexible than you used to be, which can make sprinting down the ice difficult. You may notice a grating feeling coming from within your hip when you move.
These symptoms develop slowly, and the slow development makes them easy to ignore, especially for athletes who are used to feeling stiff and sore regularly. Over time, your hip osteoarthritis symptoms will get worse, and you'll realize that it's not just regular athletic discomfort. You'll feel stiff and sore when you wake up in the morning, not just when you're skating, and hard lumps may form on your hip. These lumps are extra pieces of bone that form on the damaged joint.
How is hip osteoarthritis treated?
Gentle exercises can help you control your pain and regain flexibility in your hip. A physiotherapist can help you create an appropriate exercise plan with these goals in mind. Your exercise plan may include things like water aerobics, tai chi or strength training.
If you want to keep playing hockey, an osteotomy can help delay a hip replacement. This procedure is invasive and involves cutting the bones that make up your hip joint and realigning them. Studies have shown that this procedure can delay joint replacement by about six years. A hip replacement is career-ending for hockey players, but other players have transitioned to coaching to be able to stay involved with their sport.
If your hip hurts, you may be developing hip osteoarthritis and should see your doctor, like Genesys Hospital physical therapy or other locations.