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Old Symptoms, New Risks

Flashes, flushes, fatigue — they may have meant nothing in your younger years. But now they could signal a serious problem. What to watch for, what to do

Symptom: Hip Pain

What it may have meant in your youth: You hauled your toddler for too long
What it may signal now: Bursitis
The thick, fibrous tissue that runs across the outside of the hip (known as the iliotibial band, or ITB) rubs against the bone when we're physically active; over time, this friction can inflame the bursa, the small sac that sits between the bone and ITB. More than half of hip pain in midlife women can be traced to bursitis, says Andrew L. Sherman, M.D., vice chair of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Depending on the degree of inflammation, the pain can be dull or sharp, mild or severe. You may feel it just in the hip, or it may run down to your knee.

If this happens to you: Apply ice or, if it feels better, heat, for 15 minutes every four to six hours. If the pain is still severe after a few days, see your doctor, who may inject corticosteroids into the bursa. Stretching the ITB speeds healing: Stand facing your kitchen counter, with your right foot a few inches behind your left. Holding the counter for support, bend your left knee and slide your right leg to the left, keeping the knee straight. Lean your upper body slightly to the left, feeling the stretch in the right hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat three times on each leg, several times a day. You should recover within four to six weeks, "even if the pain is really awful," says Dr. Sherman. The same stretch can also help prevent bursitis, as can doing squats and side leg lifts to keep your hips strong and flexible.

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