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Painful Hip Lump Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

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Last updated October 29, 2020

Painful hip lump questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your lump.

A painful hip lump can appear from many factors concerning conditions of the skin, trauma from an injury, or nerve damage. Finding a skin abscess or cyst on the hip can cause hip pain. Read below for more information on common and rare causes of painful bumps on the hips.

Painful hip lump questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your lump.

Painful hip lump symptom checker

Painful lump on hip symptoms explained

The health of your hips is important — from going up stairs, to dancing with loved ones, or just walking down the street. Having a painful hip lump can severely impact your mobility and even be bothersome when you aren't moving at all. In order to address your painful hip lump, keep the following details in mind and perhaps take note of your hip's anatomy.

Hip anatomy

The hip is a relatively strong and stable ball-and-socket joint formed by the femur (the round end of the thigh bone) and the acetabulum (a cup-shaped socket) in the pelvis. See this image for a visual representation the hip joint and the different bones that form it. There are multiple muscles that surround and support the bones and the hip that allow for movement. These muscles include:

  • Gluteal muscles: These are the muscles in the buttocks that are important for abducting the hip (moving the hip away from the body laterally).
  • Adductor muscles: These muscles are important for moving the hip towards the body.
  • Hamstrings muscles: These muscles help extend the hip.
  • Iliopsoas muscle: This muscle is important for flexing the hip.

Common characteristics of a painful hip lump

Associated symptoms and characteristics of a painful hip lump may include the following:

Less-concerning characteristics

New lumps and bumps on the body are also concerning since they can be the initial sign of a cancerous process. However, there are signs and symptoms that are reassuring. Lumps in the hip are less concerning if they have the following characteristics:

  • Soft
  • Easily mobile
  • Get smaller in size with rest

More concerning characteristics

Lumps in the hip that require prompt follow-up include the following characteristics:

  • Hard
  • Rigid/stuck in place
  • Grows in size over time

Make an appointment with your physician if you experience these symptoms in order to get appropriate treatment and counseling.

What does a painful lump on your hip mean?

There are various specific structures within the hip region such as muscles, nerves, and bones.

In addition to the bones and muscles mentioned above, the hip has specific nerves and blood supply that can become injured and manifest with pain. These include:

  • Nerves: The three major nerves and their branches in the hip and thigh the femoral nerve, the sciatic nerve, and the obturator nerve together provide both sensory information and innervation to the muscles of the thigh and hip.
  • Other structures: There are also various tendons, ligaments, and arteries throughout this area. Tendons connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone.

Conditions that affect these structures can result in hip lumps that can be grouped into the following categories:

Traumatic causes

Causes related to trauma to the hip that can result in a painful hip lump include the following.

  • Direct: Trauma to the hip area can range from minor events such as bumping a table to a fall to serious events such as a motor vehicle accident. Traumatic causes may also be associated with visible deformity and bleeding depending on the severity of the trauma.
  • Repetitive: The hip is a major weight-bearing joint of the body and is susceptible to injury from repetitive movements. These movements may causea comparatively small injury but result in significant pain. Mechanical or anatomical problems with the joint and how it interacts with other joints and connections of the leg and hip may result in irritation that may result in a painful lump as well.

Rheumatologic causes

Rheumatologic causes that can result in a painful hip lump may include the following.

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Arthritis can result in thickening and swelling that can result in damage and deformity of the bones and cartilage in the form of nodules.
  • Cysts: Cysts are sacs that can be filled with fluid, air or other material that can form in any part of the body. Cysts can occur in the hip and cause pain that can lead to injury from constant inflammation. The hip is especially susceptible to the formation of cysts given that it has many bursae small, fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction in the joints. These bursae can become inflamed causing pain and a noticeable.

Painful hip lump questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your lump.

Painful hip lump symptom checker

Inflammatory causes

Inflammatory causes that can result in a painful hip lump include the following.

  • Infections: Some infectious pathogens (mainly bacteria) can infect the bones of the hip resulting in a condition known as osteomyelitis. An infection of the skin can also result in a painful, pus-filled collection called an abscess.
  • Dermatologic: There are many dermatologic conditions that can result in a painful lump on the hip. For example, panniculitis is a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the fatty tissue under the skin and result in skin nodules.

Malignant causes

In general, any growth is the result of cells dividing and growing uncontrollably. Sometimes there is a genetic mutation in DNA or a specific protein or failure in an important checkpoint that results in this unchecked growth. These abnormal cells accumulate to form a noticeable lump. A lump (also known as a tumor) can be benign; however, if this lump grows and invades the body it is considered malignant.

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Skin abscess

A skin abscess is a large pocket of pus that has formed just beneath the skin. It is caused by bacteria getting under the skin, usually through a small cut or scratch, and beginning to multiply. The body fights the invasion with white blood cells, which kill some of the infected tissue but form pus within the cavity that remains.

Symptoms include a large, red, swollen, painful lump of pus anywhere on the body beneath the skin. There may be fever, chills, and body aches from the infection.

If not treated, there is the risk of an abscess enlarging, spreading, and causing serious illness.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

A small abscess may heal on its own, through the body's immune system. But some will need to be drained or lanced in a medical provider's office so that the pus can be cleaned out. Antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Keeping the skin clean, and using only clean clothes and towels, will help to make sure that the abscess does not recur.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash

Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess: rash with bumps or blisters

Urgency: Primary care doctor


Pimples are also called comedones, spots, blemishes, or "zits." Medically, they are small skin eruptions filled with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Pimples often first start appearing at puberty, when hormones increase the production of oil in the skin and sometimes clog the pores.

Most susceptible are teenagers from about ages 13 to 17.

Symptoms include blocked pores that may appear flat and black on the surface, because the oil darkens when exposed to the air; blocked pores that appear white on the surface because they have closed over with dead skin cells; or swollen, yellow-white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by reddened skin.

Outbreaks of pimples on the skin can interfere with quality of life, making the person self-conscious about their appearance and causing pain and discomfort in the skin. A medical provider can help to manage the condition, sometimes through referral to a dermatologist.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment involves improving diet; keeping the skin, hair, washcloths, and towels very clean; and using over-the-counter acne remedies.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump

Symptoms that always occur with pimple: pink or red facial bump

Urgency: Self-treatment

Boil (furuncle)

A furuncle, also called a boil, is infection of a hair follicle. The infection forms under the skin at the root of the hair and may occur anywhere on the body.

The infection is caused by bacteria, most often Staphylococcus aureus or "staph." Irritation caused by clothes or anything else rubbing the skin can cause the skin to break down and allow bacteria to enter.

Staph bacteria are found everywhere. Frequent and thorough handwashing, and otherwise maintaining cleanliness, will help to prevent its spread.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system; diabetes; and other skin infections.

Symptoms include a single bump under the skin that is swollen, painful, and red, and contains pus.

It is important to treat the boil, since infection can spread into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes fluid sample from the boil.

Treatment may involve incision and drainage of the infection, followed by creams to apply to the site of the boil and/or a course of antibiotic medicine.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump, constant skin changes

Symptoms that always occur with boil (furuncle): pink or red facial bump

Symptoms that never occur with boil (furuncle): fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Iliopsoas bursitis

Bursae are small fluid-filled sacks located around the body in strategic locations to provide a cushion and help reduce friction. Iliopsoas bursitis, or hip bursitis, is an inflammation of the hip bursa, causing pain at the point of the hip. The pain may extend to the outside of the thigh area.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: thigh pain, groin pain, limping, snapping or clicking sensation of the hip, pain in the front of the hip

Symptoms that never occur with iliopsoas bursitis: fever, back pain, butt pain from an injury, pain in both hips, unmovable hip lump, hard hip lump, back pain that shoots down the leg

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Fibrous dysplasia of bone

This is a genetic condition where part of a bone develops incorrectly using the wrong type of materials (fibrous instead of bony tissue), causing a weak area of bone that is prone to fractures. This process begins before birth, and the cause of the gene mutation is not fully known.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: spontaneous bone pain, groin pain, pain in one thigh, spontaneous hip pain, upper leg bump

Symptoms that always occur with fibrous dysplasia of bone: spontaneous bone pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Benign bony growth (osteochondroma)

An osteochondroma is a non-cancerous growth that usually develops during childhood or adolescence. It is a benign tumor that forms on the surface of a bone near the growth plate.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: lower leg bump, upper leg bump, numbness in one thigh, painful thigh lump, hip bump

Urgency: Primary care doctor

How and when to treat a painful hip lump

When to see a doctor for a painful hip lump

Since the causes of hip lumps are varied, it is important to make an appointment with your physician in order to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, your physician may suggest the following.

  • Surgery: Surgery is often the first-line option for removing both benign and malignant growths from the hip and other areas of the body. Surgery for malignant growths is often also treated with other chemical treatments.
  • Pain medication: Medications such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that help alleviate the pain associated with hip lumps.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Inflammatory causes of hip lumps may be treated with medications that target and decrease inflammation, including immune system suppressing drugs.
  • Cancer treatment: If your hip lump and associated symptoms are due to malignant cancer, your physician will discuss treatment options including surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

At-home treatments for a painful hip lump

Supportive measures such as resting and leg elevation combined with icing and compression bandages may also help alleviate swelling and discomfort. If your hip lump lessens or goes away with these supportive measures, your condition is most likely not life-threatening.

Painful hip lump questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your lump.

Painful hip lump symptom checker

FAQs about painful hip lump

Will the lump in my hip go away on its own?

Depending on the cause, there is a possibility that the lump and the accompanying pain will go away on its own. If the hip lump is a cyst or caused by trauma or repetitive injury, the likelihood that it will go away on its own is high. However, if the hip lump is a benign or malignant tumor, it will not resolve on its own and will require follow-up.

Will the lump spread from one hip to the other?

If the lump is red or multiple lumps appear on one hip, this is most likely an inflammatory etiology like panniculitis. These bumps may spread and affect the other leg in the first few weeks; however, they can be easily treated and often resolve on their own. Other causes of hip lumps, on the other hand, usually do not spread from one hip to the other.

Is the lump chronic or temporary?

A hip lump may be temporary or chronic depending on the cause. A chronic hip lump is more associated with benign or malignant growths whereas temporary lumps are more associated with traumatic or inflammatory causes.

How will the lump affect my daily activities?

A hip lump can be very painful and uncomfortable but those related to trauma or repetitive activity should not affect your day-to-day in the long term. After a traumatic event, bed rest and limited activity on the affected hip will help with recovery, but after full recovery, knee or leg function should not be significantly affected. A hip lump associated with a benign or malignant growth may cause fatigue or unexplained weight loss, which may affect your energy to complete tasks. See your physician promptly if you feel like your symptoms are significantly affecting your life.

What can I do to prevent the development of hip lumps?

It is very difficult to prevent the development of hip lumps. The only situations in which the development of hip lumps may be prevented are those related to a repetitive injury. It may help to limit activities that require a lot of jumping or running and participate in cross-training activities that limit stress on the joints.

Questions your doctor may ask about painful hip lump

  • What color is the bump?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Is there fluid coming out of the bump?
  • Have you received an organ transplantation before?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Painful hip lump statistics

People who have experienced painful hip lump have also experienced:

  • 15% Hip Pain
  • 15% Lower Back Pain
  • 10% Hip Bump

People who have experienced painful hip lump were most often matched with:

  • 66% Skin Abscess
  • 16% Pimple
  • 16% Boil (Furuncle)

People who have experienced painful hip lump had symptoms persist for:

  • 38% Over a month
  • 26% Less than a week
  • 16% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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