Are you suffering from hip pain? In today’s article, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of this condition as well as the ways to relieve it. First of all, let’s explore the anatomy of the hip joint to better understand how it works.


The hip is a socket joint between the thigh bones and the pelvis. It attaches the leg to the torso of the body. The hip joint is made up of two parts:

  • Acetabulum– a socket found in the pelvis made up of pelvic bones and which the femoral head fits.
  • Femoral head– a ball-shaped bone that is located at the top of the femur or thigh bone.

Ligaments are the ones responsible for connecting the ball to the socket forming the joint capsule and stabilizing the hip. The joint capsule is lined with synovium, a thin membrane that produces a slimy fluid to lubricate the joint. Bursae are sacs that are filled with fluid which act as cushions where there is friction between tendons, bones, and the muscles.

The hip is also connected to large muscles that enable movement and support the joint. These muscles include:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Iliopsoas muscle
  • Adductor muscles
  • Gluteals

There are blood vessels and major nerves that run through the hip which include the femoral nerve at the front of the hip, the femoral artery, and the sciatic nerve at the back of the hip.

Causes of Hip Pain

When one uses the hip, the cartilage that acts as a cushion helps prevent friction while the hip bone moves in its socket. The cartilage becomes damaged and can wear down over time and use. The tendons and muscles in the hip can also get overused. The bones in the hip can break because of a fall or an injury. Any of these conditions can result to hip pain.

There are a lot of possible causes for experiencing pain in the hip. While pain can be felt from the joint itself, there are other structures surrounding the hip that may also be the source of pain. Pain can arise from structures that are within the hip joints or from the structures surrounding the hip itself.

The most common cause of hip pain is trauma but any source of inflammation may actually cause pain in the hip area. Pain is one of the many symptoms of inflammation coupled with redness, warmth, and swelling. Experiencing these symptoms altogether are signs that a problem may exist.

Here are the common causes of pain in the hip:


Adults often experience rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis which are among the most common causes of hip pain. Arthritis causes the breaking down of the cartilage cushioning the hip bones and the inflammation of the hip joint. The pain gets worse gradually. Individuals with arthritis have a hard time moving the hips and they also feel stiffness around that area.

Hip Fractures

The bones become brittle and weak when aging. Weakened bones may break in the event of a fall.


The bursae can cause pain when they get inflamed which may be a result of repetitive activities that irritate or overwork the hip joint.

Tendon or Muscle Strain

Repeated activities can put a strain on the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that support the hips. When they are overused, they become inflamed and can cause pain hindering the hip from functioning normally.


Tendinitis is the irritation or inflammation of the tendons which is normally caused by repetitive stress from overuse.

Hip labral tear

This is a rip or a tear in the ring of the labrum that follows the outside rim of the socket of the hip joint. The labrum is a cartilage that acts like a gasket or a rubber seal to help hold the ball at the top of the femur securely within the hip socket. Repetitive twisting movements can lead to this problem.

Avascular necrosis

A condition that occurs when the blood flow to the hip bones slows and the bone tissue dies. This can be caused by a dislocation or fracture of the hips or long-term use of high dosage of steroids.


Tumors affecting the bones or that spread or metastasize to the bone may cause pain in the hips and other bones of the body.

Pinched nerves

Meralgia paresthetica, sciatica, and sacroiliitis can also cause pain in the hips.

Symptoms of Hip Pain

The pain or discomfort in the hip depends on the condition or underlying cause. The discomfort may be felt in the:

  • Thigh
  • Groin
  • Buttocks
  • Inside the hip joint
  • Outside of the hip joint

Pain in other structures close to the hip such as the groin and the back may sometimes radiate or extend to the hip.

Hip pain gets worse when performing activities especially when it is caused by arthritis. You may also have difficulty moving your hips aside from the pain that you are experiencing. You may also develop a limp if you are having persistent pain.

How to Relieve Hip Pain

You can try putting ice on the area for about 15 minutes a few times a day. Rest the area where the pain is felt. Try to avoid repeated bending at the hip and direct pressure on the hip to prevent further pain on the hip.

If the pain is caused by tendon or muscle strain, tendinitis, or osteoarthritis, it can be relieved by OTC drugs like Tylenol, Aleve, or Motril. Always seek medical advice before taking these medications.

For hip pain caused by arthritis, prescription drugs are usually recommended by doctors such as corticosteroids, sulfasalazine, biologics, and methotrexate.

A warm shower or bath can also prepare the muscles for stretching exercises to help ease the pain.

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