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Hip pain

Hip pain involves any pain in or around the hip joint. You may not feel pain from your hip directly over the hip area. You may feel it in your groin or pain in your thigh or knee.

Alternative Names

Pain - hip

Causes

Hip pain may be caused by problems in the bones or cartilage of your hip

  • Hip fractures can cause of sudden hip pain. These injuries can be a serious and lead to major problems. Hip fractures are more common as people get older because falls are more likely and your bones become weaker.
  • Infection in the bones or joints (links to osteomyelitis and septic arthritis)
  • Osteonecrosis of the hip
  • Arthritis   -- often felt in the front part of your thigh or in your groin
  • Labral tear of the hip

Pain in or around the hip may also be caused by problems:

Pain you feel in the hip may reflect a problem in your back, rather than your hip itself.

Home Care

General tips:

  • Try to avoid activities that make pain worse.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Sleep on the side of your body that does not have pain. Put a pillow between your legs.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Ask your health care provider for help.
  • Try not to stand for long periods of time. If you must stand, do so on a soft, cushioned surface. Stand with an equal amount of weight on each leg.
  • Wear flat shoes that are cushioned and comfortable.

For hip pain related to overuse or physical activity:

  • Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Avoid running straight down hills. Walk down instead.
  • Swim instead of run or bicycle.
  • Cut down the amount of exercise you do.
  • Run on a smooth, soft surface, such as a track. Avoid running on cement.
  • If you have flat feet, try special shoe inserts and arch supports (orthotics).
  • Make sure your running shoes are made well, fit well, and have good cushioning.

See your health care provider before exercising your hip. If you think you may have arthritis in or have injured your hip.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to a hospital or get emergency help if:

  • Your hip pain is caused by a serious fall or other injury.
  • Your leg is deformed, badly bruised, or bleeding.
  • You are unable to move your hip or bear any weight on your leg.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your hip is still painful after 1 week of home treatment.
  • You also have a fever or rash.
  • You have sudden hip pain, plus sickle cell anemia or long-term steroid use.
  • You have pain in both hips and other joints.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam with careful attention to your hips, thighs, back, and the way you walk. To help diagnose the cause of the problem, your health care provider will ask questions about:

  • Where you feel the pain
  • When and how the pain started
  • Things that make the pain worse
  • What you have done to relieve the pain
  • Your ability to you walk and support weight
  • Other medical problems you have
  • Medicines you take 

You may need x-rays of your hip or an MRI scan.

Your health care provider may tell you to take a higher dose of over-the-counter medication. You may also need a prescription anti-inflammatory medication.

References

Shah A, Busconi B. Hip, pelvis, and thigh: Hip and pelvis. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 21, section A.

Huddleston JI, Goodman SB. Hip and knee pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 42.

Updated: 4/16/2013

C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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