Definition of hip pain
Hip pain is a common complaint that can be caused by a wide variety of problems. The precise location of your hip pain can provide valuable clues about the underlying cause.
Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of your hip or your groin. Hip pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround your hip joint.
Hip pain can sometimes be caused by diseases and conditions in other areas of your body, such as your lower back or your knees. This type of pain is called referred pain. Most hip pain can be controlled with self-care at home.
Causes of hip pain
Hip pain may be caused by arthritis, injuries or other problems.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Hip fracture
- Hip labral tear
- Inguinal hernia
- Sprains and strains
- Herniated disk
- Meralgia paresthetica
- Spinal stenosis
- Advanced (metastatic) cancer that has spread to the bones
- Bone cancer
- Avascular necrosis
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
When to see a doctor
You may not need to see a doctor if your hip pain is minor. Try these self-care tips:
- Gentle exercise. While certain exercises may cause some discomfort, in general, exercise is much more likely to help than to do any significant harm.
- Weight loss. Taking off just 5 to 10 pounds (2.25 to 4.5 kilograms) can make a significant difference in the amount of pain or discomfort you experience.
- Rest. Avoid repeated bending at the hip and direct pressure on the hip. Try not to sleep on the affected side and avoid prolonged sitting.
- Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease your hip pain.
- Ice or heat. Use ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to apply cold treatments to your hip. Conversely, a warm bath or shower may help prepare your muscles for stretching exercises that can reduce pain.
If self-care treatments don’t help, make an appointment with your doctor.
Seek immediate medical attention
Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if your hip pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:
- A joint that appears deformed
- Inability to move your leg or hip
- Inability to bear weight on the affected leg
- Intense pain
- Sudden swelling