Hip Pain Causes & Symptoms

Hip pain refers to any pain located on or around the hip joint. Pain in this area is very common and has several possible causes that can affect the muscles and other soft tissues surrounding your hip joint, or the hip joint bone. Hip injuries, medical conditions and even everyday wear and tear and aging can cause hip pains.

Symptoms

Hip pain symptoms can vary depending on the cause. Acute hip injuries can cause severe and sudden pain, while hip pain due to degenerative changes from aging or overuse may start off mild and worsen over time. Hip pain can be felt in the inside of the hip joint or on the outside of the hip.

Pain from hip injuries isn’t only limited to the hip and may cause pain or inflammation in the:

  • Buttocks
  • Groin
  • Thigh
  • Knee

In some cases, hip pains don’t come from the hip at all and is instead what’s called referred pain, which is pain that radiates to the hip from other parts of the body, such as the back.

Hip pain symptoms may also include:

  • Stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Reduced range of motion in the hip
  • Walking with a limp
  • Redness
  • Warmth

Causes

There are many possible causes of hip pain, ranging from mild injury to serious medical conditions. Possible hip pain causes include:

  • Injury.
    Injuries can result from fall or accident or develop gradually from wear and tear. Common hip injuries that can cause hip pain include fractures, labral tears, bursitis, tendinitis, and dislocation.
  • Arthritis.
    Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common causes of hip pain. Other types of arthritis, such as juvenile arthritis and psoriatic arthritis may also cause hip pain symptoms.
  • Pinched nerves.
    A pinched nerve in the spine can cause a person to feel hip pain.
  • Infection.
    Joint and bone infections can cause pain and inflammation in the hip.
  • Osteonecrosis.
    This occurs when the blood supply to the hip bone is interrupted, causing cell tissue to die.
  • Tumors.
    Benign or malignant tumors in or around the hips and pelvis can cause hip pain.
  • Osteoporosis.
    Bone loss from osteoporosis can cause fractures, spinal compression, and other damage that can result in hip pain.

Risks

Aging increases our risk of hip pain and hip injuries. This is the result of decreased bone density and muscle mass as we get older and less active. Wear and tear on the joints from everyday use also increases the risk of hip problems as we get older.

A woman’s risk of hip injuries is higher than a male’s risk, with approximately 70 percent of hip fractures occurring in women. The reason for this is lowered estrogen levels that result from menopause, causing accelerated loss of bone density.

Athletes and those that participate in activities or occupations that put a lot of stress on the hips also have an increased risk of hip pain symptoms.

Other risk factors for hip pain include:

  • Being overweight
  • Chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis
  • Certain medications
  • History of knee injury

Diagnosis

In order to diagnose the cause of your hip pain, your doctor will first talk to you about your medical history. You will be asked to describe your hip pain symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them. Your doctor may also ask you about other medical conditions and medications you’re on, as well as any injuries you may have sustained that could be causing your symptoms.

A physical examination will help the doctor determine what, if any, other tests you will need. During a physical examination for hip pain, the doctor may examine the hip to look for any obvious signs of injury or infection. He or she may also move your legs and hips to check your range of motion and strength.

Tests that may be used to diagnose the cause of your hip pain include:

  • X-rays. These images are able to clearly show damage in the bones, including bone spurs, and narrowing of the joint space associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This type of scan produces 3-D images that show the bones and soft tissues in great detail, enabling the doctor to diagnose damage to the soft tissues.

Blood tests and urine analysis may be used to check for signs of arthritis, infection, and other medical conditions that may cause hip pain.

Options

There are many treatment options available that can provide hip pain relief. The type of treatment your doctor will recommend depends on the cause of your symptoms. Most doctors will recommend starting with the least invasive treatments available unless your hip pain is caused by acute injury or from severe damage.

Other treatment options that may be recommended if rest, medications, and exercise fail to provide relief include:

  • Medication.
    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and other pain relievers can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injections.
    These injections could be prescribed to help with inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy.
    Specific exercises can help strengthen your hip and improve flexibility. This will also help to improve your range of motion.
  • Surgery.
    There are different types of surgical procedures to treat severe osteoarthritis in the knee: knee osteotomy (which realigns the bones in the knee), joint replacement or minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. The last surgery, the type performed by ARO, is conducted through a small incision using a thin, flexible camera. The type of surgery you have will depend on the extent of your damage and other factors, such as age and overall state of health.