Hip pain is a common complaint that can be caused by a wide variety of problems. The precise location of hip pain can provide clues about the underlying cause.
Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of the hip or the groin. Hip pain on the outside of the hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround the hip joint.
Hip pain can sometimes be caused by diseases and conditions in other areas of the body, such as the lower back. This type of pain is called referred pain.
Hip pain may be caused by arthritis, injuries or other problems.
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Osteoarthritis (The most common type of arthritis.)
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Bursitis (A condition in which small sacs that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near joints become inflamed.)
- Dislocation: First aid
- Hip fracture
- Hip labral tear
- Inguinal hernia (A condition in which tissue bulges through a weak spot in the muscles of the abdomen and can descend into the scrotum.)
- Sprains (Stretching or tearing of a tissue band called a ligament, which connects two bones together in a joint.)
- Tendinitis (A condition that happens when swelling called inflammation affects a tendon.)
- Meralgia paresthetica
- Sciatica (Pain that travels along the path of a nerve that runs from the lower back down to each leg.)
- Advanced (metastatic) cancer that has spread to the bones
- Bone cancer
- Avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis) (The death of bone tissue due to limited blood flow.)
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (in children)
When to see a doctor
You may not need to see a health professional if your hip pain is minor. Try these self-care tips:
- Rest. Avoid repeated bending at the hip and direct pressure on the hip. Try not to sleep on the affected side or sit for long periods of time.
- Pain relievers. Nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease hip pain. Sometimes nonprescription topical pain relievers such as capsaicin (Capzasin, Zostrix, others) or salicylates (Bengay, Icy Hot, others) are used.
- Ice or heat. Use ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to apply cold treatments to the hip. A warm bath or shower may help prepare your muscles for stretching exercises that can reduce pain.
If self-care treatments don't help, make an appointment with your health care team.
Seek immediate medical attention
Ask someone to drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if your hip pain is caused by an injury and includes any of the following:
- A joint that appears deformed or out of place or a leg that appears shortened.
- Inability to move your leg or hip.
- Inability to bear weight on the affected leg.
- Intense pain.
- Sudden swelling.
- Fever, chills, redness or any other signs of infection.
Last Updated Sep 1, 2023