Read below about hip pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your hip pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Hip Pain Symptoms

Whether it's sharp, aching, or throbbing, hip pain can be a fact of life for many of us, especially as we get older. The hip joint is at work whenever we're on the go, so it's vulnerable to injury or wear-and-tear. Since the area around the hip also contains many muscles, ligaments and nerves, pain may also come from outside the joint.

Many people think that hip pain is only a problem for older adults. That's often true, and in some studies, more than 10 percent of people above age 60 complain of hip pain on a regular basis. Still, younger people are not immune to the problem, especially those who are active or participate in sports.

Hip pain is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

Hip Pain Causes Overview

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the head of the leg bone (the ball) fits snugly into the pelvis (the socket). In most people, this setup is very secure and the hip functions well to support our weight and keep us moving. Sometimes, though, trauma like a fall or sports injury can knock the joint out of place leading to pain and other symptoms. Irritation from overuse and breakdown of the body's natural padding is also common. Aging weakens both bones and padding, making injury more likely. Certain medical conditions can also impact the hip joint even when direct injury has not occurred.

Trauma:

  • Fracture: The upper leg bone (called the femur) can break in older people even after a minor injury. Younger people are usually impacted after more serious trauma.
  • Dislocation: In some cases, the femur can pop out of its socket, causing intense hip pain until it is put back into place.
  • Sprain: Other injuries can tear or strain the ligaments of the hip joints, which work to connect bones together, even if the bones themselves are uninjured.

Musculoskeletal causes:

  • Arthritis: This is irritation that occurs in the joint, usually after years of use that causes breaks in natural padding.
  • Bursitis: The lubricating fluid that sits between muscles, tendons, and bones near the hip joint can become painfully inflamed.
  • Nerve entrapment: Direct compression of a nerve in or around the joint can produce intense discomfort that is often described as shooting or radiating.

Other causes of hip pain include:

  • Infection: Bacteria can enter the hip joint directly through a break in the skin or through the bloodstream, leading to a joint that is painful and often red, hot, or swollen.
  • Blocked blood flow: The hip joint requires regular blood flow to stay healthy, but the blood vessels that lead there can sometimes become blocked. If without blood for long enough, some of the bone can die.
  • Medications: Certain medications such as steroids and fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin) increase the risk of problems with the hip joint.
  • Cancer: Pain in the hip and back more rarely may result from cancer that has usually spread from other organs.

9 Potential Hip Pain Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Snapping Hip Syndrome

    Snapping hip syndrome is an audible snap in a hip during movement, which may be accompanied by pain, locking, or a sharp stabbing sensation. This often happens in athletes, especially soccer players, weight-lifters, runners, and ballet dancers.

    Months to years

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    hip pain, snapping or clicking sensation of the hip, hip pain from overuse, popping hip, clicking sensation in the hip
    Symptoms that always occur with snapping hip syndrome:
    snapping or clicking sensation of the hip
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Piriformis Syndrome

    Piriformis syndrome is a condition when a muscle spanning the lower spine to the top of the thighbone presses upon the sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness.

    1-2 months

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pelvis pain, butt pain, pain when passing stools, leg numbness, hip pain
    Symptoms that never occur with piriformis syndrome:
    involuntary defecation, leaking urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Cellulitis

    Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues underneath it. It is most commonly caused by Group A strep and typically enters the body through a break in the skin.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, hip pain, hip injury, hip redness, painful hip swelling
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    hip redness, area of skin redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Thigh Nerve Issue (Meralgia Paresthetica)

    Meralgia paresthetica is a nerve condition that causes an area of skin over the upper outer thigh to feel numb, tingly, or painful. This is caused by compression of a nerve known as the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh as it passes underneath a tough fibrous ligament known as the inguinal ligament.

    Pain and pins-and-needles feeling resolves with time. Sometimes numbness and altered sensation remains for life.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in the outside of the hip, pain in one thigh, thigh numbness, tingling upper leg, hip numbness
    Symptoms that never occur with thigh nerve issue (meralgia paresthetica):
    new headache, swollen hip, swollen hips, swelling of one hip, leg swelling, weakness of both legs, leg weakness, leaking urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Hip Pain Checker

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  5. 5.Hip Dislocation

    A slipped capital femoral epiphysis is a separation of the ball of the hip joint from the thigh bone (femur) at the upper growing end (growth plate) of the bone.

    With treatment and after recovery in the hospital, no long-term effects.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    hip pain, moderate hip pain, dull, achy hip pain, thigh pain, groin pain
    Symptoms that always occur with hip dislocation:
    hip pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  6. 6.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    RA is a chronic disease which requires lifelong control.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Ankylosing Spondylitis

    Ankylosing spondylitis, also called Bechterew's disease, is a type of arthritis of the spine. 'Arthritis' means inflammation of joints, and in ankylosing spondylitis this means that there is inflammation (irritation and swelling) between the disks that make up the spine. There can also be inflammation between the spine and the pelvis. Bechterew's disease occurs more often in men and in people who have family members with the same disease.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, back pain, trouble sleeping, joint pain, hip pain
    Symptoms that always occur with ankylosing spondylitis:
    back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of joints) called psoriatic arthritis.

    This type of arthritis can be managed with treatment, and permanent damage can be prevented. However, the underlying cause (psoriasis) is currently incurable.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain, lower back pain, joint pain, upper back pain, hip pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Ewing Sarcoma

    Ewing sarcoma is a type of bone cancer often affecting the legs, pelvis, ribs, arms or spine. It can occur anytime during childhood and young adulthood; it is rarely seen in adults.

    Curable with total treatment lasting 8-12 months

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, loss of appetite, new headache, fever, rib pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Hip Pain Treatments and Relief

The vast majority of hip pain symptoms can be taken care of at home with over-the-counter remedies, especially if there is no injury and the pain is mild. A doctor can provide additional hip pain treatment for pain that is more severe or gets in the way of everyday activity. A more comprehensive evaluation is often undertaken after injury, in older people, or if there are other concerning hip pain symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem.

At-home hip pain treatments:

  • Rest: Since many cases of hip pain are caused by injury, it's best to take it easy for a few days, trying to avoid twisting, bending and excessive weight-bearing as much as possible.
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter options like Tylenol and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are good options for the management of mild to moderate hip pain.
  • Ice: Whether you use a proper icepack, or a wet cloth placed in the freezer, cold works to dull many causes of hip pain symptoms.
  • Heat: Some people may find that heating pads or hot water bottles ease discomfort, while others like to alternate heat and ice.
  • Stretching: Gentle, passive stretching should become part of a daily routine for anyone with hip pain symptoms.
  • Sleep with a pillow between the legs: A firm pillow helps keep your hips in line and reduces stress on the joints overnight, especially if you sleep on your side.

Professional hip pain treatments:

  • Physical therapy: A professional can teach more advanced techniques and target therapy to the specific area of injury.
  • Imaging: A doctor may order X-rays or some other form of imaging like a CT or MRI to better evaluate the cause of your hip pain.
  • Steroid injections: If your hip pain stems from inflammation in a joint or the surrounding area, steroids can treat this problem directly and alleviate your discomfort.
  • Nerve blocks: An anesthetic can be injected directly into a nerve near the hip joint if a doctor determines that you are suffering from nerve pain.
  • Antibiotics: Suspected infections of the hip joint can be very damaging and should be treated without delay.
  • Surgery: Hip replacements can reduce pain dramatically in joints chronically damaged by wear-and-tear or other causes.

You should seek help without delay if you have:

  • Serious injury to the hip, especially if you have changes in sensation or your leg appears pale or cold
  • Fever and hip pain, especially if the joint is red, hot, or swollen
  • A history of joint or bloodstream infections
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Been prescribed corticosteroids

FAQs About Hip Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about hip pain.

Why is hip pain worse at night?

Hip pain at night that is constant may be a sign of a systemic illness including an infectious process, inflammatory process, or neoplastic (cancer). Most frequently, hip pain that is worse at night is a sign of an inflammation of the joint, but if you are experiencing constant hip pain that is worse at night, you should seek medical care.

Why do I have hip pain before my period?

Dysmenorrhea is pain that occurs during and just before a menstrual period. It can affect and usually does affect the lower abdomen but may also affect the hip. It may also be associated with premenstrual syndrome though usually this syndrome is signalled by pain in the breasts.

Can hip pain be related to back pain?

Yes, hip pain can be and is commonly related to back pain. A single process like osteoarthritis can cause both back and hip pain, and in some cases, back pain caused by a pinched nerve can lead to referred hip pain. Sometimes severe back pain leads to abnormal gait that may, over time, cause hip pain.

Why does my hip pain come and go?

Your hip pain may be due to a variety to reasons. If it is because of a particular activity (horseback riding, yoga, dancing), the pain should subside as the involved muscles and ligaments rest. Hip pain may also be due to a pinched nerve, in which case movements that further pinch the involved nerve may worsen pain, and movements that alleviate the pinched nerve will lessen the pressure.

Is hip pain a symptom of pregnancy?

Hip pain and joint pain generally can be a symptoms of pregnancy. The weight of a gravid (pregnant) uterus (womb) can be enough to stretch and stress the joints of a woman's body. This includes her spine, pelvis, and knees as well as her hips. The additional body weight that most women put on can also stress the hips. The best remedies for hip pain in pregnancy are to make sure you have proper back support, to gain only as much weight as your physician recommends, and to rest when tired.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Hip Pain

  • Q.Do your symptoms get worse when you exercise?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.How would you explain why your hip hurts?
  • Q.What is your body mass?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our hip pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Hip Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced hip pain have also experienced:

    • 18% Lower Back Pain
    • 10% Upper Leg Pain
    • 8% Lower Leg Pain
  • People who have experienced hip pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 44% Over a Month
    • 20% Less Than a Week
    • 15% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced hip pain were most often matched with:

    • 11% Piriformis Syndrome
    • 5% Snapping Hip Syndrome
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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