Hip Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Hip Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Hip Pain?

Hip pain is described as discomfort in upper part of the thighbone (femur) where it connects with the pelvis. Some people may say they have hip pain and further explain they feel it in the gluteal region or the low back.

The hip is the connecting point between the trunk and the lower extremity. This connection happens throught the attachment of the rounded ball on the superior portion of femur into the cup-like socket located on the pelvis (acetabulum) to make up the hip (ball and socket) joint. Each end of bone has a protective somewhat hard rubber-like covering we call cartilage to protect them by creating a near friction free surface and cushioning. The joint is housed in a capsule that attaches to the bones. The capsule keeps the lubricating (sunovial) fluid surrounding the joint while also keeping the joint in place. Several muscles attache from the pelvis to the femur and cross this joint. The primary action of these muscles in locomotion (walking) but also help to maintain the hip joint in its proper location.

What Causes Hip Pain?

Physical causes:

  • Age/Wear and tear
  • Tendinitis
  • Strain/Sprain
  • Bursitis
  • Spinal disc issues
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout)
  • Fractures
Nutrition and Fitness

Medical cause:

There are several physical causes of hip pain, but what is actually happening with these issues that cause pain?

  • As we age we place stresses on our bodies. Some people grow older gracefully and with minor issues, while some people endure crippling pain and/or end up with physical limitations. Overexertion, repetitive motions and accidents and injuries can have an effect on our joint health as we age. The more abuse our bodies undergo the more likely it is we face injury or age-related issues.
  • Tendinitis and sprains and strains. Overuse and repetition cause tearing that cannot heal overtime on their own.
  • The protective fluid-filled sacs around the joints swell with repeated use, improper body mechanics or trauma.
  • Spinal disc issues. Degeneration of joint spaces or bulging discs may place abnormal stress on nerves, resulting in referred pain.
  • Mineral deposits in inflamed tissues from abuse, genetic or aquired disease diseases.
  • Trauma or disease creates cracks or breaks in the bone.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Pain?

The main symptom is the complaint, which is pain. There may be some descriptions about the pain though that could vary depending on the underlying condition which is causing the pain.

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Examples of type of hip pain and major symptom.

  • Osteoarthritis: Decreased flexibility of the joint, increased pain, stiffness, swelling and tenderness of the area, a feeling of grating inside the joint, popping or cracking.
  • Bursitis: May experience an ache or feel stiff. The pain will be worse when pressing on the area and it may be red and swollen.
  • Tendinitis: The pain is described as a dull ache and is made worse with movement. The area may be tender to touch and feel or look swollen.
  • Spinal referred pain: May experience a mild ache to a severe sharp pain. Some people will describe it as an electric shock, burning or excruciating. Coughing or bearing down makes this worse. Often felt from the low back/buttocks and down the back of the leg and bottom of the foot.

How to Prevent Hip Pain?

There are several things we can do to help us prevent pain in the hip.

  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Staying moderately active and maintaining a healthy weight will keep the joint lubricated and decrease the stress on the components.
  • Decrease repetitive stress and overuse. If your job or sporting activities are placing excessive stress on your hip joint try to take measures to reduce it.
  • Maintain mobility health. Engage daily in warm-ups, stretching and proper ergonomic and lifting techniques. See a soft tissue specialist to work out any issues before they become severe injuries.
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Hip Pain Prevention Pathway


Ergonomic Hygiene

The art and science of adapting your physical workspace and surroundings to function best with your specific needs.

Ergonomic Hygiene

Proper posture, position and motion are critical to prevention. It impossible to achieve any of these without the proper workstation setup and healthy mobility.

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Mobility Health

The practice of performing mobilization and exercises to maintain proper functioning of the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles and everything connecting them).


Warm-ups, stretches and strengthening exercises specifically designed to address risks to your mobility health from your environment (work and home).

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Injury and strain due to fatigue is very common and avoidable with proper rest intervals. Microbreaks during activities decrease injury risks.


It doesn’t take a lot of downtime to allow your body to recover and reset. Depending on the activity rest may just be one minute for every twenty minutes of activity.

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How is Hip Pain Treated?

Hip pain treatment is dependent on the diagnosis. This can range form conservative, at self care treatments to surgical intervention. Most forms of treatment will involve rest, minimized weight bearing, OTC or prescription meds,  and non-weighted exercise.

How is Bursitis Treated?

The True Costs of Hip Pain?

  • To You: direct costs of maximizing insurance deductibles and out of pocket max plus the costs of reduced quality of life, lost productivity due to time away from work, and potential disability.
  • To Employers: direct costs of $20,000-$32,000 per case plus the cost of quality, lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover.
  • To the U.S. Economy: direct care costs over $20 billion every year plus the costs of lost productivity and disability.

How Common is Hip Pain?

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FAQs About Hip Pain

Conservative management of hp pain can range form hundreds to thousands of dollars and may inclue OTC and prescriprion medications, manual therapy, and physical therapy. Total hip replacement surgery is an option for people with severe osteoarthritis and costs on average $32,000.

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