Can’t Put On Socks? Why This Could Be a Bad Sign…

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can't put on socks

I see patients every day who have lost hip range of motion and can’t put on socks anymore. Is this a big deal? Regrettably, few of them know that this likely means their hip joints are getting slowly fried and arthritic. While knees may smolder for years, hips go quick, so a sudden inability to put your socks on may be a colossal deal. Let me explain.

Hip Range of Motion and Why It’s Critical

If there is one finding on physical exam that I see day in and day out that correlates with the development of serious hip arthritis, it’s loss of range of motion. This finding is different from that in the knee, where this kind of range-of-motion loss is rarer and happens slowly. In the hip, it can occur quickly and lead to the rapid onset of arthritis that can become severe within a year or two. So the patient can go from having no issues in the hip to needing a hip replacement inside of 24 months.

One of the reasons hip arthritis may come on so quickly and virulently is range-of-motion (ROM) loss. The lack of movement of the hip has the effect of concentrating all of the forces in a limited area. Unlike the knee, which has large joint surfaces and often better preserved ROM, which can dissipate forces over that area, the weight-bearing surfaces of the hip are smaller. So when the contact areas are further limited by poor ROM, these forces may wear away cartilage much faster.

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Why Is It a Big Deal if You Suddenly Can’t Put On Socks?

To don or doff your socks, you need adequate hip range of motion. If you’re finding it harder and harder to get that foot up on your opposite leg, it could be because of lost hip range of motion. As discussed above, the fact that you can’t put on socks could mean that severe hip arthritis is on its way.

What if You Don’t Have Much Hip Pain?

Since a sudden range-of-motion loss can be a sign of early arthritis that can rapidly progress to its severe form, you may or may not have hip pain yet. However, pay attention to lost hip range of motion. This is because going from mild arthritis to a destroyed joint can happen quickly. Besides, new biologic treatments, like an injection of platelets or stem cells, are more likely to work if the disease is caught in its earlier stages.

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What Do I Do if I Notice This Problem?

First, insist on getting the hip imaged with an MRI. Many physicians these days won’t want to order an MRI, but instead an X-ray. Why not an X-ray? Because it’s easier to access the quality of the bone on an MRI for things like microfracturing that can lead to dead bone areas called cysts and a rapidly degenerated joint.

If you have hip arthritis, if it’s caught early, a platelet rich plasma or stem cell injection may help turn the tide. Also, physical therapy to help regain lost ROM and strength in the joint may be helpful. If that doesn’t work, using injections of platelet growth factors to stretch the tight hip ligaments can help regain the motion.

The upshot? If you’ve recently noticed you can’t put on socks as easily, beware—hip arthritis may be on the way! Make sure you get your hip checked immediately!

This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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13 thoughts on “Can’t Put On Socks? Why This Could Be a Bad Sign…

  1. Vee

    Can stem cell therapy help osteoporosis?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      We treat joint issues of patients who have Osteoporosis regularly, however we don’t treat Osteoporosis itself. Be aware that there are clinics that claim to. Please see:

      1. Jeremy Martin

        I think you meant to say “osteoporosis” in this reply above where it says “osteoathritis”.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Thanks! Correction made.

  2. TCB

    I recently had regenexx renew my hips. I’m so pleased and satisfied with them. It hasn’t even been a month since I’ve had the procedure done and I’m almost completely back to my old self. Thank you regenexx for giving my life back!! Dallas patient.

    Pain free and freely living

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Wonderful news! We will share with Dr. Movva!

    2. Jeremy Martin

      Was this a same-day stem cell hip procedure or a cultured stem cell hip procedure? Did you have osteoarthritis before, and if so how severe?

      1. Regenexx Team Post author

        Hoping TCM answers your question, but only same day stem cell procedures are done in Dallas, or at any of the Regenexx locations in the US. Cultured procedures are only done in Grand Cayman.

  3. pam bilderback

    I have just started to have hip pain and I saw an orthopedic doctor and he wants me to do therapy first, then he said we would think about injections. I’m sure he is talking about cortisone but I would rather have stem cells. A doctor friend of mine said my insurance wouldn’t pay for it but I ride horses and would like to get back to it as soon as possible.
    What would it cost if I needed to self-pay? I used to live in Dallas for years but now live in Austin. I would gladly make the trip !!
    Can you give me any basic costs of this procedure and do insurance co. ever pay for this?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Very wise! Cortisone injections can help with pain in the short run, but are are net negative as they escalate breakdown in the joint. Please see: Unfortunately, Insurance doesn’t pay for stem cell procedures at this time. However, if your insurance is in network the Exam is usually covered, and patients have shared that other parts of the protocol, separate from the procedure itself are often covered when the insurance is within network. Cost depends on what would need to be done in your particular case. Please submit the Candidate form to see what would likely be needed in your particular case.

  4. Dom Costabile

    Great and pertainent teaching point. I always try to remember that arthritis is NOT principally caused by wear and tear over a life time, but up regulated inflammatory cytokines. You post makes me wonder if up regulation of inflammatory cytokines during this period of Rapid 12-24 months loss of ROM is a root cause or a bystander of regeneration failure??
    Certainly makes me smile at the root cause of motion loss/ inactivity as a prime driver of articular regeneration/degeneration. “Motion IS medicine” “Food is medicine” “Food (what we eat) is a disease modifying drug”
    “Our biography is or will become our biology” Diagnosis means… a way of seeing… not an ICD code. Cardiac disease is NOT heart disease…it’s cardiometabolic disease. Just as CABG and stents cannot stop progression of cardiometabolic disease.
    It is my hope our future/ present physicians will continue to see the relationship/root (dysregulation/tissue REGENERATION) in health and disease.
    Think…. DM III, arthritis, Non alcoholic steatosis, dementia.obesity,tendinopathy….the list goes on. The functional medicine toolbox and tools are like “changing your eyes”, I am so happy to begin to see what I never knew. thanks for your vision Chris Be Well Dom

  5. Bill

    My hip I can now only walk 1/4 of mile I would like give it a try please left hip. I had to sale my motorcycle can’t ride pain.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Bill,
      To see if we can help in your case, we’d need more information. To do that, please use the “Are You A Regenexx Candidate” form here:

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