Hip pain may be caused by an assortment of problems including arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and fractures. Hip pain includes any type of discomfort in the hip joint or around the region. While the hip has an immense amount of strength and is considered to be one of the most stable of all joints, pain in the hip is a relatively common complaint among individuals. In this guide, we will outline the most common causes of hip discomfort so that you may gain a more comprehensive understanding of the condition.

xray of hips

How Does the Hip Work?

The hip is a type of ball-and-socket joint. The very top region of the bone in the thigh is shaped in such a way that it resembles a ball. This sits inside of a hollow socket-like region directly into the pelvis.

These types of joints offer the highest range of motion of any joint type in the body.

Hipbone animation
source

The joint in the hip is secured by muscles that are attached directly to the bones through tendons. Tendons not only protect the hip joint but also support the leg and aid in the movements of the upper body.

Inside of the joint capsule is a lubricating substance known as synovial fluid. This fluid helps to ensure that the cartilage that is part of the joint remains healthy. The cartilage is situated directly in-between the bones of the joint. This reduces the possibility of the bones from unnaturally rubbing up against one another. It also aids in soothing the impact of walking and other movements of the hip.

The hip joint is highly flexible and offers a high level of support. Despite this, it is still an area where many experience discomfort.

Common Hip Pain Causes

As mentioned previously, pain in the hip may stem from many different causes. In some instances, more than one issue may be causing the discomfort. The following outlines the most common of all hip pain causes:

  1. Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is considered to be the most common type of arthritis. It is also referred to as “wear and tear arthritis”. If hip pain stems from arthritis, it will be felt within the groin region and in the front section of the thigh. Stiffness may be experienced after long periods of inactivity and this may result in the development of a decreased range of motion – which will detrimentally impact the ability to walk.
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis – This is a type of inflammatory disease that is chronic in nature. It develops as a result of an improperly functioning immune system. As a result, the immune system attacks the joints and other regions of the body. Pain, stiffness, and possibly even swelling may be experienced in the groin, thighs, and hips if RA is a cause of hip pain. This disease typically impacts the same joint on both sides of the body.
  3. Ankylosing Spondylitis – This is a type of arthritis that results in the development of inflammation in the spine. It is known to result in stiffness and pain that may spread to and be felt within the hip.
  4. Psoriatic Arthritis – This type of arthritis occurs in individuals that have the skin condition called psoriasis. The inflammation and pain will impact both the small and the large joints throughout the body. Individuals who have hip pain caused by this type of arthritis will suffer from groin pain, buttocks pain, and outer thigh pain.
  5. Septic Arthritis – This is a condition that develops as a result of an infection that is caused by fungus, some type of bacteria, or even a virus. Once the infection occurs, it then travels through the bloodstream. This – in turn – has the potential to negatively impact the joints of the body. If this form of infectious arthritis is to blame for hip pain, the symptoms will suddenly occur. They often include immense pain, high levels of swelling, and fever.
  6. Reactive Arthritis – This type of arthritis usually follows an infection involving the gastrointestinal system, the urinary tract, and/or the genitalia. It commonly impacts large joints – such as the knees, the shoulders, and the hips. It may be the culprit for hip pain – especially in older individuals.
  7. Bursitis – The body has bursae sacs. These contain fluid and help in reducing the friction and also cushions the regions in between the muscles, tendons, and the bones. These sacs are located throughout the body, including the hips. If these become inflamed, bursitis develops. This could result in pain. In most cases, an injury and/or overuse result in the development of bursitis.
  8. Tendinitis – In the body, tendons are fibrous-based tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. Many tendons capsulate the hip joint. If these become inflamed or become irritated in any way, pain follows. The condition that causes the pain is called tendinitis. Overuse and injury are commonly the causes behind tendinitis – especially when it involves the hip.
  9. Myositis – This is a type of medical disorder that causes inflammation and results in the development of muscle weakness. In some instances, this may be the underlying reason why hip pain develops.
  10. Polymyalgia Rheumatica – This is a rheumatic disorder that results in the development of pain and stiffness. It most often affects the shoulders and the hips. It is rare in those that are younger than 50. The symptoms will impact both sides of the body. Additionally, the symptoms experienced – such as hip pain – are considered to be much more severe in the morning hours.
  11. Fracture – If sudden pain occurs with an injury, the cause of hip pain may be a fracture. This is a very serious issues and the complications may become life-threatening. If a fall occurs and you are unable to get up, walk, are suffering from intense hip pain, cannot bear weight, have bruising and swelling, and symptoms that are similar in nature, seek medical assistance immediately.
  12. Osteonecrosis – This is a very painful condition that happens when – for some reason – the blood supply to the top of the thigh bone experiences interference or a disruption. This could lead to the total destruction of the hip joint. This condition is also referred to as avascular necrosis or as aseptic necrosis. It may occur to any joint in the body, but most often impacts the hip joint. If you believe this issue is to blame for underlying hip pain, seek medical help right away.
  13. Labral Tear – Many people have hip pain because of a labral tear. The labrum is a ring composed of cartilage that lines the outside rim associated with the socket of the hip joint. Individuals that have this may have pain in the hip and/or groin. This often worsens after walking, standing, or even sitting for long periods of time. There may be a locking or a catching sensation in the joint. Also, limited motion range and stiffness may occur.
  14. Hip Impingement – This is also called femoroacetabular impingement or “FAI”, for short. This is when the ball of the hip joint pinches up directly against the cup of the hip, which is called the acetabulum. This may result in stiffness and pain in the hip. It could lead to the development of arthritis.
  15. Iliotibial Band Syndrome – The inflammation of this condition often causes pain on the outside of the knee; however, many may have aching in the hip. Researchers are currently leaning towards the fact that this syndrome could be a direct result of weak muscles within the hip. In most instances, the pain experienced happens in the outer hip area.
  16. Hamstring Injuries – The hamstrings involve three muscles that run down the back region of the thigh and work together so that the knee is capable of flexing. If these muscles tear, a hamstring injury occurs. In most instances, pain is felt in the back of the leg; however, if the muscles were injured closer to the hip, it could be an underlying cause of hip pain.
  17. Weak Hip Flexors – If the hip flexor muscles are weak, it could lead to the development of lower back pain and hip pain. Additionally, many individuals will find that it is hard to climb stairs and difficulties are experienced in walking.
  18. Groin Strain – When the muscles of the inner thigh or directly in front of the hip are either overstretched or torn, a groin strain occurs. This causes hip pain, difficulty in walking, problems lifting the knee, and other issues to occur.
  19. Snapping Hip Syndrome – This issue causes hip pain, a snapping sensation in the hip, and similar symptoms. It is sometimes called dancer’s hip because it is commonly experienced by dancers and other types of athletes. In addition to pain, weakness may occur.
  20. Back Problems – In some instances, hip pain is caused by problems in the back that cause referred pain or other issues.

Physical Therapy for Hip Pain

If you suffer from hip pain, it is time to reach out for help. We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy are capable of identifying the culprit of your pain. We will then create a customized care plan for your recovery. If you would like to learn more about the services that we offer or would like to set up an appointment for physical therapy for your hip pain, simply contact us today.

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