There are many different causes of hip pain, including where the pain is referred to the hip from elsewhere.
Broadly, pain from the hip can be from two different groups of diseases — where there is damage or inflammation to the bones or overlying cartilage of the joint, and where there is damage to the soft tissues that are part of the joint structure.
“Hip pain can be due to a combination of your hip shape, the activities you do and genetic or biological factors”
– Dr Tom Pollard, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Circle Reading Hospital
Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as ‘wear and tear’ on the joint. Either due to a lifetime of physical activity or due to slight differences in the anatomy of the hip joint, damage occurs to the cartilage that covers the bony surfaces of the hip.
As the cartilage gets damaged, it becomes less smooth for the joint to move over, and it begins to cause pain. In severe cases, the cartilage can be almost completely worn away.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease which causes inflammation in joints. As the joint gets inflamed, it can damage the structures that make up the hip, especially the smooth cartilage surfaces.
In rheumatoid arthritis, other joints may be affected. Often the pain and stiffness are worse first thing in the morning.
Soft tissue causes of hip pain
There are many different structures that make up the hip joint, and pain can come from damage to any of these. It is most commonly due to a simple sprain or strain from overuse.
However, if what you feel was a simple sprain does not get better as it should, it is important to seek specialist advice to ensure that there is not another cause for your pain that may need treatment.
Other causes can include:
- Tear to the acetabular labrum – the edge of the hip socket is made from a piece of cartilage called the labrum. This can be damaged or torn, especially in people who play high-energy sports. A tear can present with pain and a feeling of locking in the joint
- Trochanteric bursitis – a fluid-filled sack that sits on the outside of the hip can become inflamed leading to pain
- Iliopsoas tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon of one of the major muscles around the hip
Seeing one of our Circle Health Group specialists will help you to rule out other causes of hip pain, get diagnosed, and find the most suitable treatment for you.
Infection within the joint is rare, but can be found in people who have had a recent injury to the joint, surgery to the hip joint or who have impaired immune systems.
An infected joint may be hot, swollen and red. You might feel unwell or have a temperature.
If you suspect that you might have a joint infection, you should seek medical attention urgently.
Fractures to the hip bones are most common in the elderly after a fall. They can occur in younger people, especially if involved in a heavy impact like a car crash.
There is usually severe pain in the hip, and you would be unable to walk.