Pain in the hip is very common. Hip pain affects children and adults and can have a variety of different causes. If you have hip pain that persists, you should see a doctor or physiotherapist.
What is hip pain?
Hip pain is soreness or pain inside the hip joint. You may also feel pain in your:
The cause of hip pain will affect when and where you feel the soreness. Usually if the problem is with the hip itself you will feel pain inside your hip or your groin. If the pain is outside your hip, on the upper thigh or outer buttock, the cause will usually be problems with muscles, ligaments or tendons around the hip joint.
Sometimes pain from other areas can be felt in your hip - this is called ‘referred pain’. Pain in the hip can affect you when you:
- walk up or down stairs
- sit or stand for some time
- exercise or play sport
What causes hip pain?
Conditions that cause hip pain include:
- arthritis of the hip from a variety of causes - osteoarthritis is the most common, especially in people older than 50
- an injury
- lower back problems
- a fracture of the neck (top) of the femur (thigh bone)
- a strained muscle
- an inflamed tendon or other inflammatory conditions
- an infection
- pinched nerves
What symptoms relate to hip pain?
If the pain is caused by osteoarthritis, other symptoms may include stiffness, tenderness if you push on the joint, a grating sensation in your joints, and muscle weakness.
A bone fracture may also have swelling, deformity, bruising or loss of function.
If the pain is caused by an infection, the area could be red, swollen and warm.
When should I see my doctor?
You should talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about your hip pain immediately if:
- the pain is sudden or intense
- the result of an injury or a fall
- you can't move your hip or leg
- you can't put weight on the affected leg
- you notice swelling or bleeding
- you notice any sign of an infection, like a fever
If your child has pain in the hip, talk to your doctor.
How is hip pain diagnosed?
A doctor or physiotherapist can work out what is causing the pain in your hip. They might talk to you and examine you, checking how you stand, how you walk and what movements cause pain. They may suggest blood tests or X-rays.
How is hip pain treated?
The treatment might include:
- physiotherapy or occupational therapy
- anti-inflammatory, pain-killing medicines or creams
- steroid injections
- advice about weight loss and exercise
- stretching, strengthening exercises or resistance training
- water exercise including swimming
Your doctor may suggest you consult an orthopaedic surgeon if surgery or other specialist treatment is needed. You might find pain relief with home treatments such as rest, heat or ice, massage or gentle exercises for hip pain.
Can hip pain be prevented?
One of the best ways to reduce pain is to exercise. Low impact activities are best to protect the hips.
It’s important to talk to a doctor or physiotherapist first so they can tailor a program to the condition that is causing the hip pain.
Resources and support
Arthritis Australia has information about hip pain
MyJointPain.org.au provides support for people with osteoarthritis
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Last reviewed: March 2020