Hip pain is a common complaint that can be caused by a wide variety of problems. The precise location of your hip pain can provide valuable clues about the underlying cause.
Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of your hip or your groin. Hip pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround your hip joint.
Hip pain can sometimes be caused by diseases and conditions in other areas of your body, such as your lower back. This type of pain is called referred pain.
Possible Causes of Hip Pains
Arthritis – Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are among the most common causes of hip pain, especially in older adults. Arthritis leads to inflammation of the hip joint and the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions your hip bones. The pain gradually gets worse. People with arthritis also feel stiffness and have reduced range of motion in the hip.
Hip fractures – With age, the bones can become weak and brittle. Weakened bones are more likely to break during a fall.
Bursitis – Bursae are sacs of liquid found between tissues such as bone, muscles, and tendons. They ease the friction from these tissues rubbing together. When bursae get inflamed, they can cause pain. Inflammation of bursae is usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint.
Tendinitis – Tendons are the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons. It’s usually caused by repetitive stress from overuse.
Muscle or tendon strain – Repeated activities can put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the hips. When they become inflamed due to overuse, they can cause pain and prevent the hip from working normally.
Hip labral tear – This is a rip in the ring of cartilage (called the labrum) that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. Along with cushioning your hip joint, your labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket. Athletes and people who perform repetitive twisting movements are at higher risk of developing this problem.
Cancers – Tumors that start in the bone or that spread to the bone can cause pain in the hips, as well as in other bones of the body.
Avascular necrosis (also called osteonecrosis) – This condition happens when blood flow to the hip bone slows and the bone tissue dies. Although it can affect other bones, avascular necrosis most often happens in the hip. It can be caused by a hip fracture or dislocation, or from the long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone), among other causes.
What are the Symptoms Associated with Hip Pains?
Symptoms vary in intensity from mild to severe. Hip pain can be a cause of disability. Symptoms associated with hip pain depend on the cause and they may include:
- joint pain,
- groin pain,
- loss of motion of the hip,
- swelling over the hip,
- tenderness of the hip,
- difficulty sleeping on the hip.
How to Treat Hip Pains
The treatment of hip pain depends on the precise cause of the pain.
Treatments can include rest, non-weight-bearing, cold application, and anti-inflammatory medications. For local inflammation, sometimes injection of cortisone medication (steroids) is used to quiet the inflammation. If infection is present, antibiotics are used.
Fractures can require treatment with surgical repairs, including pinning, plates and screws, and total joint replacement. For severe arthritis, total joint replacement is performed when possible.
Although some of the causes of hip pains are beyond your natural control, making healthy lifestyle choices and safety lifting and postural practices can help reduce or prevent the incidence of hip pains. Maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular safe exercises for your age and properly treat other underlying conditions that can result in hip pains.