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Can You Tell If Your Hips Are Suffering From Wear and Tear





As a chiropractor when I go to an airport I often take a good look at the older generations making their way to and from your flights. The distance between gates at most modern airports gives me a chance to see the differences between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ when it comes to mobility in my seniors.


In those of us over the age of 70 my chiropractor eyes see many who can walk normally and comfortably to their gate. I also see some who have to go much more slowly than the average passenger (travel; companions dutifully slowing their own pace along side ), and then there are those of us who are forced to go in the golf cart. When I see all this my chiropractors brain is very aware that degenerative arthritis (wear and tear) on the bodies joints is easily the most common cause of INAGS ( I Need the Airport Golf Cart Syndrome).


The truth is some of us have joints that make it through 8 decades without developing significant arthritis and some of us develop it much earlier, usually in some specific area. Although we don’t fully know with any scientific certainty yet  how it ALL fits together yet we can be certain at this stage that arthritis is caused by some combination of ….


-fitness / conditioning


Try to recall this list next time someone tells you that their stiff knee is ‘just old age’.

Whatever the full story is we may never know but thats okay because the 2 most important questions in my view are…

Is there any way of seeing it coming?

Is there anything I can do to prevent arthritis in our own bodies.?


This short blog is about the first question, ‘Is there any way of being able to know whether i am the one at risk of on the golf cart’?. The answer is YES it is nearly always possible to see the warning signs many decades before full arthritis sets in. Very few of the hips on surgical waiting lists just started hurting over night .. most of them have a pretty shaky track record.


To be as ‘real’ as we can be about these attempts to see the future we are best to acknowledge that predicting the body is a bit like predicting the weather and there will never be a 100% accurate method. My view is that our current understanding of the body enables us to predict hip pain, back pain and arthritis as well as we can predict the weather now that we have satellite images.


So what does the type of arthritis that puts us in the golf cart at the airport tend to look and feel like in the preceding decades? If we can answer this for you then you have your own set of principles to be able to spot potentially troublesome patterns in yourself.


There is alot of variation in how joint pain ( think knee pain, hip pain, back pain, neck pain ) leading to arthritis progresses in different people depending on a great many factors but if we were to look at a specific real person as an example it will give us some good insight into the type of warning signs we may encounter.


The following description is a client of mine we’ll call Maximus ( why not eh ). He is now in his late 70’s and has had his right hip replaced and by looking at his history we can have a glimpse of how that might come about…


35 years of age

  • Developed a tendency to be sore around right side lower back and hip for a few days after rugby matches.
  • Had multiple ankle sprains on the right as the sore hip ( this is a sure sign something is up mechanically )

45 years of age

  • Had decided to give up rugby as he was gradually getting more and more right hip pain afterwards.
  • Same right sided hip developed tendency to be stiff and sore both in the early morning and if he was on his feet all day. ( he doesn’t need rugby for it to hurt now)
  • Had noticing that the knee on left side was getting stiff and sore ( this was the beginnings of compensation pain ).


55 years of age

  • In addition to the general stiffness and soreness tendency he was now getting periods of intense pain around the right hip and back pain on the right side for up to 8 weeks out of the year.
  • Left knee an increasing problem
  • Had increasingly noticed that the arch on his right foot had dropped significantly.


65 years of age

  • Fewer periods of intense pain but had developed a fairly constant and lifestyle limiting feeling of stiffness and aching around his right hip. Was taking him more than an hour to feel mobile each morning.
  • Walking for more than 20 minutes became  impossible without developing increased right hip and left knee pain


75 years of age 

  •  X rays revealed advanced osteoarthritis in right hip – full replacement surgery has left him with much less pain but limited mobility.


I hope this snap shot gives you some small insight into what it can look like when our joints may go down hill over time. Reading about real life examples can often help us to reflect on whether we ourselves have any stubborn little patterns of pain or stiffness that might be heading in an undesirable direction.


The great news is that if we take timely action with joint health its about as effective in most cases as taking timely action with our dental health.


Rehabilitation exercise, mobility work, chiropractic work, acupuncture, dietary supplementation , orthotic prescription and lifestyle adjustments are the order of the day ….. after all you wouldn’t take this type of thing lying down would you ?


The truth is in any case that we aren’t really talking about rehabilitation, wear & tear or even pain, we are talking about FREEDOM. Freedom from back pain, hip pain, knee pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, arthritis and the feelings of limitation that come with them is the freedom to enjoy an active life and fully express what we came here to do.Thats why I believe its worth talking about and also why its important to know that there is so much that can be done to stop our bodies stiffening up and hurting.