Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine
You have left or right hip pain. These pains appeared gradually, and you wonder about the potential causes of pain.
What does your hip pain mean? What are the potential causes? And most importantly, what can you do to relieve your symptoms?
This popularized article offers you 11 possible causes explaining your hip pain. As a bonus, we offer several strategies to get better, and tell you when it is essential to consult in case your problem is serious.
1. Coxarthrosis (arthrosis of the hip)
What is the hip made of, exactly? In reality, it is a joint where the acetabulum from the iliac bone articulates with the head of the femur.
Inside the joint, the bone is covered with cartilage. This makes it possible to cushion the impacts and facilitate the sliding of the bone surfaces.
In the presence of osteoarthritis, there is an inflammation of the cartilage. It follows a degradation of the cartilage which leads to a friction of the femoral head on the acetabulum. This condition particularly affects the elderly, and sometimes those who put excessive stress on their hips.
The typical symptoms found are pain in the groin and on the front of the thigh. There may also be pain on the outer side of the hip. These pains are typically increased on exertion.
The mobility of the hip will be reduced, and pain will be observed at the end of the rotation movement mainly due to the presence of bony beaks. Affected people regularly complain of morning stiffness.
X-rays can diagnose coxo-femoral osteoarthritis. Depending on the additional clinical examination and the cartilage damage observed onmedical imaging, the healthcare professional will suggest various treatment modalities.
To know everything about hip osteoarthritis and its management, see the following article.
2. Fracture and dislocation
Of course, it goes without saying that any accident causing a dislocation or hip fracture will cause significant pain. An x-ray is usually sufficient to detect bone or joint dysfunction following trauma.
It should be noted that a history of hip fracture can also cause pain. Although this theory is not proven from a scientific point of view, many patients complain of pain during wet periods, when it rains, or even in winter.
Also, theosteoporosis increases the chances of hip fracture, mainly due to secondary bone fragility.
3. Trochanteric (and iliopsoas) bursitis
The purses are bags of liquid placed all over the body (about 160 in all). They facilitate the friction of the tissues between them, and prevent excessive friction between the bones and the soft tissues.
At the level of the hip, there are two important bursae: The trochanteric bursa on the outer side of the femur, and the iliopsoas bursa on the front of the thigh (in relation to the iliopsoas muscle).
In the presence of repetitive acts that overload or irritate the hip joint, there may be inflammation in one of these bursae: This is called trochanteric bursitis or iliopsoas bursitis . Bursitis is one of the most common causes of hip pain after age 60.
The most common symptoms are pain on palpation of the inflamed bursa. For example, trochanteric bursitis causes pain on the outer side of the hip, at the level of the greater trochanter.
Medical imaging tests will usually diagnose bursitis.
To know everything about the hip bursitis and its support, see the following article.
Tendons are thick bands of tissue that attach muscles to bones. In the presence of repeated stress or excessive irritation, inflammation may develop. We then speak of tendonitis.
The pain will depend on the anatomical location of the tendon. For example, irritated hip flexors cause pain in the front of the thigh, near the groin.
In general, the pain appears following a vigorous exercise session, and fades within a few days.
La pubalgia refers to irritation of the structures surrounding the groin (inner thigh). It mainly affects athletes taking part in activities involving accelerations, changes of direction, twisting movements, etc.
The main symptom of pubalgia is sharp pain in the groin. This may disappear at rest, but usually reappears with exertion. It even happens that it is increased by sneezing or coughing. Stiffness around the groin can also complete the clinical picture.
To find out all about pubalgia and its treatment, see the following article.
From an anatomical point of view, there are nearly 25 muscles that have a direct relationship with the hip (point of insertion).
When overloaded, these muscles can develop micro-tears, muscle tension points (trigger points), or contractures.
Any dysfunction in these muscles can affect the normal functioning of the hip.
What is the role of the labrum? This is an anatomical structure that holds the femoral head within the acetabulum (otherwise the hip would not be stable in its cavity).
In the presence of sports involving excessive twisting (golf, football, ballet, etc.), a tear in the labrum is sometimes observed.
The pain felt is often deep and/or at the groin. There is also a feeling of jerkiness and instability in the hip.
8. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a dysfunctional immune system that attacks the joints and causes an inflammatory process.
The disease usually affects the hands, knees or ankles. But it can also affect other joints such as the hip. It even happens that it affects the eyes, the heart and the circulatory system and the lungs.
This condition which affects women more causes joint pain and morning stiffness that lasts at least 30 minutes. If it causes pain in the hip, it also affects other joints, and often on both sides (symmetrically).
Blood tests (to measure markers of inflammation in the body such as C reactive protein) and medical imaging can clarify the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. The rheumatologist is the specialist of choice for the management of this disease.
9. Avascular necrosis
Normally, the head of the femur is supplied by terminal arteries. The routing of a blood flow in the region of the hip thus allows the supply of nutrients necessary for its proper functioning.
In some situations, the artery becomes clogged and blood flow slows down at the hip. This leads to bone necrosis.
Causes of avascular necrosis include long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone), or a history of fracture or hip dislocation.
Learn all about avascular necrosis (hip osteonecrosis) and its management, see the following article.
10. Herniated or protruding disc
What is the connection between the disc protrusion, herniated disc, and hip pain? The answer comes from the anatomical link that connects the hip and the lumbar region (the lower back).
Let's start by explaining the notions of disc herniation and protrusion to better understand the relationship between the intervertebral discs and hip pain.
Disc protrusion refers to displacement of the gelatinous nucleus within a disc which pushes and deforms the annulus fibrosis at the periphery of the disc.
In the case of a herniated disc, the gelatinous nucleus directly pierces the fibrous ring, causing a migration of disc material to the outside.
Where does hip pain come from? Since the spinal nerves are close to the intervertebral discs, it is possible that the protrusion or hernia causes nerve irritation. These nerves have the role of providing sensation in the leg. This is the very concept of radiated pain.
Among the emerging nerves we have the nerve sciatica and crural nerve. Inflammation of these nerves causes pain in the buttock area and the front of the thigh (or near the groin) respectively.
Typically (but not always!), symptoms appear with prolonged sitting, or when leaning forward. They start in the lumbar region and radiate down the leg through the hip. Although medical imaging can diagnose a herniated disc, the clinical evaluation of a healthcare professional will be relevant to clarify the diagnosis.
To learn more about disc herniation and protrusion: Herniated Disc: Symptoms and Treatment et Disc protrusion from A to Z: What is it, and what to do?
11. Other back problem
We have seen that the lumbar region is connected to the hips, and a problem with the discs can indirectly cause hip pain.
But besides the discs, there are other structures in the lower back that can also cause hip pain. Again, it's the anatomical connection and the principle of radiated pain which explains the symptoms experienced.
So, a degenerative disc disease, for an narrow lumbar canal, for an spondylolisthesis or an sacroiliitis are diagnoses that can indirectly cause hip pain.
How do you know if hip pain is coming from the back? It's not that simple considering the anatomical proximity of these joints. But typically, there will also be pain in the lower back. Hip movements will be painless, and symptoms will appear mainly when the lumbar region is mobilized. He may also have pain in the presence of prolonged static postures.
If the examination of the hip performed by a medical professional does not provide answers, then one can suspect a lumbar involvement. Medical imaging tests (in addition to clinical examinations aimed at clarifying the diagnosis) will provide you with several clarifications.
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When to consult?
For peace of mind, it is best to consult when hip pain does not improve with rest, gets worse, and/or begins to affect daily activities.
Often, the pains that appeared with prolonged exertion begin to occur after minimal exertion (such as climbing stairs or bending over). Walking can also be affected, with the appearance of a compensatory lameness.
Although extremely rare, some situations require urgent consultation with the doctor. Indeed, they could be indicative of cancer. We prefer to share them with you to make sure we are taken care of in case you notice any of the following:
- Constant, progressive, non-mechanical pain : You cannot find resting positions and none direction of movement does it seem to relieve your symptoms? Go see a doctor to clarify the situation.
- Severe abdominal pain : If you have severe stomach aches, this is a sign that you should consult.
- Constant night pain: If your nights are difficult and you cannot find positions to relieve your pain, seek the opinion of a doctor (even more so if you have night sweats, chills or a fever!)
- Unexplained weight loss : You haven't gone on a diet or started an exercise program, but you seem to be losing weight over the weeks? Speak to your doctor immediately!
- Saddle anesthesia : If you have any sensory impairment in the region of the perineum (such as strange sensations in the area of the genitals), this should require the intervention of a doctor.
- New-onset urinary or fecal incontinence : I dare to hope that you will consult immediately if you lose control of your sphincters!
THINGS TO DO
If you suffer from hip pain, you are wondering about solutions to reduce your symptoms. While waiting for an accurate diagnosis, here is what you can do to treat your condition.
To take pills
This is the classic option, and the one we would like to avoid as much as possible.
Many doctors prescribe medication to patients who complain of hip pain. Anti-inflammatories are often prescribed to counter inflammation and relieve pain.
If muscle spasms are present, the doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants.
If the pain comes from the back and is accompanied by tingling and numbness, painkillers are sometimes prescribed.
It is essential to seek the advice of a doctor before consuming any medication, in order to avoid drug interactions and other side effects.
Besides medication, there are several products and accessories available on the market to relieve hip pain. It should be remembered that these tools generally provide temporary relief, and should be used sparingly. Among the products recommended by our professionals, we have:
- SPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR HIP PAIN RELIEF - The hip ice pack is designed to perfectly fit the shape of your hip and thigh. It provides deep, penetrating cold therapy to relieve pain and hip bursitis, hip arthritis, post-surgical inflammation, sports injuries, and also helps speed healing time after hip replacement surgery.
- FITS LEFT OR RIGHT HIP - The hip ice pack hugs your hip snugly for ease of movement by placing one strap around the waist and the other around the thigh. You can wear it on the left or right hip. Thanks to the premium straps, you can enjoy the therapy while walking, standing or lying down in daily life.
- Foldable Even When Frozen - Filled with soft gel, the hip ice pack is 100% malleable right out of the freezer, you can easily fold it in half with no effort. You can wrap the ice pack around your knees, arms, back for instant relief where you need it.
- 【Multifunctional Physiotherapy】The acupressure kit set includes an acupressure mat and pillow, and 2 massage balls. You can use the acupressure set in different ways and on different parts of the body, such as lower back pain, insomnia, chronic stress, fatigue, tension, circulatory disorders, etc.
- 【Safe and Premium Material】The acupressure mat massager, cushion cover and storage bag are made of 100% cotton, the inside is 21D high-density eco-friendly sponge. The massage nail is made of non-toxic ABS plastic. 100% natural without side effects, hypoallergenic.
- 【Natural Ancient Indian Healing】 The acupressure mat has 230 massage nails, 6210 massage points, the pillow has 73 massage nails, 1971 massage points. Your weight is evenly distributed into thousands of small pieces to stimulate countless acupuncture points. Ideal for relaxation and promoting circulation. The size of the acupressure mat is 68*42cm, the size of the massage pillow is 37 x 15 x 10cm.
- Heated lumbar belt (if the cause is of lumbar origin)
- 🔥Heat therapy for pain relief – The heating pillow for back pain is built-in heating pads that can heat up quickly to provide warm therapy to relieve lower back muscle tension, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps and stomach discomfort, arthritic legs, etc. . and improve blood circulation.
- 🔥Vibration Massage - The back massager is integrated with 4 powerful massage motors to deliver a soothing vibrating massage. It helps to further relieve muscle tension and pain in the neck and shoulders, lower back, lower back, thighs and legs.
- 🔥Customizable Massage - This back pain relief wrap has 3 massage modes, 2 adjustable vibration intensities and 2 heating levels. Allows you to customize a setting for yourself to achieve the ultimate comfort. The heating pad is equipped with overheat protection and automatic shut-off functions to ensure safe use.
- Ergonomic back cushion (if the cause is of lumbar origin)
- ✔️Improve unsupported chairs: The memory foam comfort cushion uses body heat to conform to the curves of the back and provide the lumbar support that is sorely lacking. office chairs
- ✔️Against back pain: Most chairs do not support the back, which causes tension. Ergonomic cushion supports upper, middle and lower back for complete comfort
- ✔️Breathable cover: The chair cushion has a breathable mesh cover that allows air to circulate, preventing heat build-up. Finally enjoy a perfectly fresh seat all day long
- 30 LEVELS Massage Gun：ALDOM massage gun Choose the speed and massage heads that best suit your needs can quickly eliminate lactic acid produced after exercise, and for everyday relieve muscle pain, back and neck aches and stiffness, greatly reducing the time muscle recovery.
- Long Battery Life: Equipped with high quality battery, the muscle massager can keep working about 6-8 hours after charging, while the cooling system can effectively remove excess heat, if the battery is low, there will be a red prompt.
- Less than 45 dB Ultra Low Noise: ALDOM muscle massager gun which features high performance and low noise. features advanced technology and high-torque non-brushed electric motor, Featuring the high-precision mold which tightly connects the machine head and the body, The high-torque motor rotates 1800-4800 times per minute and achieves your tissue to loosen the fascia (connective tissue)
- Spinal decompression table (if the cause is of lumbar origin)
- LUMBA +: Uses the neurovertebral decompression technique recognized by INSERM, practiced in osteopathy practices and recognized by the Association of Exclusive Osteopaths. Neurovertebral decompression is a surgical or non-surgical procedure that aims to release pressure on the spinal cord or on the nerves of the spine
- Neurovertebral decompression is a key element in the treatment of back pain such as herniated discs, bulging discs, sciatic pain, disc degeneration and osteoarthritis. Vertebral decompression is a principle increasingly used in the treatment of back pain (sciatic nerve stuck, disc pinching, scoliosis, compression of the vertebrae or low back pain).
- Let's discover the technique of spinal decompression and see together its effects by stretching against sciatica. Principle of vertebral decompression Vertebral (or neurovertebral) decompression is a gentle treatment used in the event of a stuck sciatic nerve, a herniated disc or even a pinched disc.
- BACK MASSAGE ROLLER TO RELIEVE YOUR MUSCLE PAIN: relieve your muscle pain and tension with the Core Balance spiked foam roller. Roll the muscle massage roller placed under your muscles to break up soft tissue adhesions and target painful trigger points (muscle knots).
- DEEPER MYOFASCIAL RELEASE: Our back massager roller features a hollow plastic body with a nubby foam exterior for deeper myofascial release. The nubs on this back roller act like the hands and fingers of a massage therapist to target, relax and release tight muscle knots much more effectively.
- IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE: Rolling the back roller over your muscles releases toxins, and increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the target area. Massage your muscles with our fitness roller before or after a workout to boost your performance, speed up your recovery time and protect you from injury.
- Muscle stimulator offering 30 programs: 10 physical preparation programs, 8 pain relief programs, 5 recovery programs, 2 rehabilitation programs and 5 fitness programs.
- The partner of your sports preparation, allowing you to prevent injuries, recover better but also relieve your pain.
- 4 independent channels allowing you to work 2 muscle groups simultaneously.
- Orthopedic knee pillow (to optimize sleep quality)
- THEorthopedic pillow Flowen helps reduce stress on your knees, legs, back and hips: when you sleep on your side, your legs drop in front of you, putting pressure on your back, your hips twist and your knees touch , causing pain. The Flowen pillow helps relieve pain, comfortably supports legs and knees, and ensures proper spinal alignment and positioning while sleeping.
- A pillow to support legs and knees: made from high quality materials, it was developed to reduce the stress and pain caused by poor posture during sleep. Padding and support for the legs and knees are important for maintaining proper alignment and reducing pain and the risk of leg cramps upon waking.
- Memory foam cushion with a bamboo and polyester pillowcase, breathable and anti-mite. Flowen pillows are designed not to retain heat and to promote air circulation during the night thanks to their hypoallergenic and anti-sweat cover.
- hip support
- ✅DESIGNED BY DOCTORS: The groin support brace relieves chronic conditions of the hip, sciatic nerve, sacroiliitis, lumbar, lower back, piriformis syndrome, elongation of the groin and promotes postoperative recovery.
- ✅ADJUSTABLE FIT & SUPPORT - The hip brace fits most sizes, men and women. Its non-slip design reduces hip soreness and provides targeted thigh and hamstring compression.
- ✅CLINICAL GRADE AND UNMATCHED COMFORT - This hip support is made of high quality neoprene and nylon material which is lightweight, breathable and durable. It guarantees support for the hip joint, relieves pain while being comfortable.
The majority of people prefer to avoid taking drugs, and turn to more natural solutions. In the case of hip pain, there are some that might relieve the symptoms.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements often used for joint pain. Moreover, they are present naturally in the body, in the synovial fluid and the cartilage surrounding the joints. They are also used in the treatment of “osteoarthritis” type pain, with encouraging scientific evidence.
Furthermore, there is some evidence indicating a link between lack of vitamin D and hip pain. With this in mind, one can imagine that vitamin D supplements can improve symptoms.
In addition, here is a non-exhaustive list of plants and essential oils effective in controlling pain and inflammation related to hip pain.
- Turmeric : Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers very powerful, turmeric is one of the most used plants in a culinary and therapeutic context. The composition of turmeric is essentially made of essential oils, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, E, K) and trace elements. But it is to its composition rich in curcumin and curcuminoids that we owe them and calm skin of this spice.
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- Ginger : In addition to the special flavor it brings to the kitchen and its aphrodisiac properties, ginger is a root well known for its anti-inflammatory powers. THE gingerol gives it its anti-inflammatory action. It is an active component acting on the inflammatory pain related to chronic joint inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, rheumatic diseases, etc. It has been proven that this active element is also effective in acting on the inflammation linked to arthritis and sciatica. Ginger also has other benefits thanks to its high potassium content and its richness in trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins (provitamin and vitamin B9).
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- 【Ginger Anti Swelling Detox Patch】: Ginger Detox Patches are natural,…
- 【Removes Body Toxins】: Ginger Foot Patches helps reduce the buildup of…
- Omega-3s : Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a very important role in the functioning of our body. They are provided by food in three natural forms: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Beyond their action on the brain and the cardiovascular system, omega-3s prove very effective against inflammation. Indeed, they have the ability to act on the inflammatory mechanisms in osteoarthritis by slowing down cartilage destruction, thus they reduce the intensity of osteoarthritis pain. Since sciatica is most often linked to inflammation secondary to a herniated disc, it can also respond to omega-3s if you consume them regularly.
- Lemon eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is a plant most often used in the form of herbal tea or essential oil. She would have anti-inflammatory effects which give it the ability to act on the bone and joint pain in general and the pain of sciatica in particular.
- Eucalyptus Citriodora Essential Oil.
- 100% pure.
- Botanical name: eucalyptus citriodo.
- wintergreen : Wintergreen is a shrub from which a very interesting essential oil is extracted. It is one of the most used essential oils in aromatherapy. This oil extracted from the shrub bearing the same name, is used in massage to relieve sciatica and act like a analgesic. Indeed, it provides a heating effect thanks to its ability toactivate blood circulation locally.
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Hip pain often results from an inflammatory process. With this in mind, it is natural to look for strategies aimed at reducing inflammation.
Besides pharmaceuticals, the solution could also be found in your diet. Let's start from the premise that some foods increase the level of inflammation in the body, while others reduce it. To this extent, adopting a anti-inflammatory diet can certainly reduce the pain.
To learn more about the inflammatory diet and benefit from a meal plan, see the following article.
Control your weight
Being overweight, logically, can increase the stress on the joints. For example, excess weight has been shown to be directly related to lower back pain.
By eliminating the extra pounds, the load on the hip joint is reduced. Also, the good habits required to lose weight will also benefit your health and vitality.
To know more, see the following article.
Apply heat and/or ice
There is not really any scientific evidence demonstrating a superiority of the heat or ice to treat injuries comprehensively.
In general, ice is applied when an inflammatory process is suspected. This may be the case if the hip pain has occurred recently, or following a trauma. Diagnoses of bursitis, tendonitis, or acute muscle tears generally respond best to ice in the early stages.
Heat, on the other hand, is used when you want to relax stiff muscles. It can be applied in the subacute or chronic phase, or if you feel muscle tension in the buttocks, at the lumbar level or on the front of the thigh.
Correct muscle imbalances
As mentioned earlier, there are several muscles connected to the hip joint. Some may be too weak and cause a lack of stability, while others may lack flexibility and cause stiffness.
A healthcare professional is able to identify the muscle imbalances potentially responsible for pain, and prescribe appropriate exercises aimed at softening stiff muscles and toning weak muscles.
These exercises will allow you to activate circulation, correct imbalances, and resume your normal activities in addition to preventing recurrences.
Maximize core strength
The trunk (core in English) allows in particular to stabilize the joints of the hips and the lumbar region. Adequate musculature at this level therefore reduces pain, in addition to preventing recurrence of injury.
There are several static and dynamic exercises to tone the core muscles. Obviously, you have to choose the right exercises and follow a progressive method to target the right muscles to optimize results.
Include cardiovascular activity
Certainly, sometimes repetitive activities like walking can increase hip pain. Obviously, these activities should be adjusted so as not to reproduce the symptoms, even if it means resting for a while.
On the other hand, cardiovascular activity has several benefits that can indirectly optimize the treatment of the affected hip. In addition to lubricating the joint, this type of activity promotes blood circulation which provides the nutrients necessary for the healing of the injury.
Thus, it is recommended to find an activity that increases the heart rate, without aggravating your symptoms. Walking on the grass (to absorb shocks), swimming, stationary bike, elliptical machine, all means are good to get you moving!
Mobilize the nerves
If hip pain originates in the lower back, it may be due to dysfunction of the sciatic or crural nerves. Clinical tests can determine if these nerves are irritated (mainly the Lasègue and PKB tests).
If so, there are neural mobility exercises aimed, as the name suggests, at mobilizing the nerves in their sheath. This will relieve symptoms radiating down the leg (especially if associated with tingling or numbness).
In extreme cases of osteoarthritis, the doctor may refer to an orthopedic surgeon. He will assess the patient's condition to determine if surgery is an appropriate option.
At this stage, the patient often presents with significant symptoms that limit quality of life. Mobility is also significantly reduced.
La hip prosthesis is a surgical operation which consists of placing an implant in the pelvis, and another in the femur to create a new joint. Various materials can be used (cement, metal, polyethylene, etc.).
This is a widely used procedure, which offers good results when indicated, and which involves little risk according to scientific studies.
To know everything about the hip prosthesis, see the following article.
Consult a healthcare professional
As you may have noticed, hip pain can come from several causes. A health professional will be able to establish an accurate diagnosis, and thus offer a treatment adapted to your situation.
Some situations require medical imaging tests. Others simply suggest a consultation with the surgeon.
In some less serious cases, a referral to a physio or an osteo may help relieve your pain and resume your activities.
Hip pain is sometimes very disabling, and limits everyday activities.
They can come from several anatomical structures surrounding the hip joint, or even refer from the lumbar region.
An accurate diagnosis will better guide the treatment approach, and thus optimize the relief of hip pain.
Good recovery !