Hip Pain

The hips join the upper legs to the lower pelvis. The bones, cartilage, tendons, and muscles of the hip joint perform a lot of work each day holding your body weight and allowing you to move around.

Hip pain is a common symptom. It can range from a minor ache to severe pain on 1 or both hips. Pain may be felt on the inside of the hip joint near the groin, or the outside near the buttocks and upper thigh. There may be swelling or stiffness as well. It occurs more often when a person walks or performs activity. There are many reasons hip pain can develop.

CAUSES

It is important to work with your caregiver to identify the cause since many conditions can impact the bones, cartilage, muscles, and tendons of the hips. Causes for hip pain include:

  • Broken (fractured) bones.

  • Separation of the thighbone from the hip socket (dislocation).

  • Torn cartilage of the hip joint.

  • Swelling (inflammation) of a tendon (tendonitis), the sac within the hip joint (bursitis), or a joint.

  • A weakening in the abdominal wall (hernia), affecting the nerves to the hip.

  • Arthritis in the hip joint or lining of the hip joint.

  • Pinched nerves in the back, hip, or upper thigh.

  • A bulging disc in the spine (herniated disc).

  • Rarely, bone infection or cancer.

DIAGNOSIS

The location of your hip pain will help your caregiver understand what may be causing the pain. A diagnosis is based on your medical history, your symptoms, results from your physical exam, and results from diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests may include X-ray exams, a computerized magnetic scan (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI), or bone scan.

TREATMENT

Treatment will depend on the cause of your hip pain. Treatment may include:

  • Limiting activities and resting until symptoms improve.

  • Crutches or other walking supports (a cane or brace).

  • Ice, elevation, and compression.

  • Physical therapy or home exercises.

  • Shoe inserts or special shoes.

  • Losing weight.

  • Medications to reduce pain.

  • Undergoing surgery.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Put ice on the injured area:

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day.

  • Keep your leg raised (elevated) when possible to lessen swelling.

  • Avoid activities that cause pain.

  • Follow specific exercises as directed by your caregiver.

  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs on your most comfortable side.

  • Record how often you have hip pain, the location of the pain, and what it feels like. This information may be helpful to you and your caregiver.

  • Ask your caregiver about returning to work or sports and whether you should drive.

  • Follow up with your caregiver for further exams, therapy, or testing as directed.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your pain or swelling continues or worsens after 1 week.

  • You are feeling unwell or have chills.

  • You have increasing difficulty with walking.

  • You have a loss of sensation or other new symptoms.

  • You have questions or concerns.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You cannot put weight on the affected hip.

  • You have fallen.

  • You have a sudden increase in pain and swelling in your hip.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.