6 Common Causes of Hip Pain

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on December 16, 2020
  • hip-pain-in-woman-jogging
    From Minor Strains to Chronic Hip Conditions
    Your hip is a big ball-and-socket joint that connects your leg to your upper body. Your hip needs to handle a heavy load when you are up and moving. Hip pain is most common in older adults. However, it can occur at any age. A broken or a dislocated hip is an obvious problem that causes pain and needs emergency attention. But, there are also common causes of hip pain that can develop over time and need the attention of your doctor. 
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    1. Hip Strain
    A group of muscles and ligaments work together to move your hip and keep your hip joint in place. A hip strain occurs when you overstretch or tear one or more of these muscles or ligaments. Hip strains can happen during everyday activities or during more stressful movement, like sports. You may have pain, tenderness and stiffness, especially when standing or walking. Call your doctor if rest, icing and over-the-counter pain medicine don't relieve your pain in a few days. Also contact your doctor if the pain makes it hard to move your hip. 
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    2. Hip Bursitis
    A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion for your hip bone. Your hip has two bursas. They can swell and become irritated from overuse or other stress on your hip. This inflammation is hip bursitis. You'll feel pain and tenderness on the outside or inside of your hip. Pain may be worse when you sleep on the painful side. Call your doctor if rest, icing and over-the-counter pain medicine don't relieve your pain in a few days. Also tell your doctor if the pain makes it hard to walk or to get up after sitting. 
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    3. Hip Osteoarthritis
    Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of a joint that occurs over time. This wears away the cartilage in the joint, which leads to bone rubbing on bone when you move your hip. Hip osteoarthritis is more common in older adults. Pain starts gradually and is deep and aching. Over time, the pain may become constant. Your hip may be stiff. It may grate, lock or stick. The pain in your hip may get worse with activity and feel worse in the morning. If you have hip pain that has gradually increased over time, call your doctor for an evaluation. 
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    4. Hip Inflammatory Arthritis
    A different type of arthritis happens when your body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks your joints. This arthritis usually starts at a younger age than osteoarthritis. The most common example is rheumatoid arthritis. You may have hip pain and stiffness along with other symptoms, like fever and fatigue. You may feel pain in both hips and in other joints, too. Pain may ease after you get out of bed in the morning and start moving. These are all signs to see your doctor. 
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    5. Septic Arthritis of the Hip
    Septic arthritis is joint pain and swelling from an infection. The usual cause is a bacterial infection. It may start somewhere else in your body and spread to your hip. You may be at risk if you recently had surgery near your hip, are older than 80, or have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms are severe hip pain and swelling, along with fever and chills. See your doctor right away if you have these symptoms. Treatment can save the joint and keep the infection from spreading further.
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    6. Osteonecrosis of the Hip
    A lack of blood supply to the bone that is the ball of the hip joint also can cause pain. It can cause the bone to die, too. The name for this condition is osteonecrosis. Pain from hip osteonecrosis is most common in men 40 to 65 years old. You may feel this pain in your groin or buttocks as well as in your hip. Risk factors include hip injury, alcohol abuse, steroid use, and smoking. Certain medical problems also can cause this. If you have any of these risk factors plus a dull pain that gets gradually worse over about a month, call your doctor. 
6 Common Causes of Hip Pain

About The Author

  1. Evaluation of the Patient with Hip Pain. American Academy of Family Physicians. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0101/p27.pdf
  2. Hip Strains. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00361
  3. Hip Bursitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00409
  4. Osteoarthritis of the Hip. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00213
  5. Inflammatory Arthritis of the Hip. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00396
  6. Infectious Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/infectious-arthritis/
  7. Osteonecrosis of the Hip. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00216

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Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 16
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