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Specific criteria help patients to identify hip pain

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Researchers have come up with a way of defining hip pain that is robust enough to use for selecting patients for population studies. It should ensure more accurate studies and more meaningful results.

They tested their method by asking patients in a primary care practice to respond to a directly worded question whether they had “hip pain” and, again, with a validated diagram defining the location of hip pain. They then compared the three groups of patients with pain (responding positively to the worded question only, the diagram only, and both question and diagram) with patients without hip pain for a range of markers of hip disease. These included consulting a family doctor, taking prescribed painkillers or other remedies, difficulty in walking and use of a stick and—in a subset of each group—the range of hip movement and x ray evidence of hip disease.

Patients with hip pain according to both question and diagram were positive for a greater proportion of the markers of hip disease, including some restricted movement and x ray evidence, than the others with pain and those without pain in age and sex adjusted comparisons. The overall response rate to the postal survey was 75%.

This cross sectional study surveyed 2935 patients aged 18–80 years in a Greater Manchester practice. A consecutive sample of patients with hip pain were age and sex matched to the sample without hip pain.

Absence of a standard for defining hip pain has been a potential limitation in previous research.