Common Causes of Hip Pain
There are many potential causes of hip pain, both chronic and acute. A proper diagnosis is crucial to ensuring you receive the most effective treatment for your condition.
In some instances, your hip pain may be caused by an injury associated with a one-time event. These include:
- Fractures – A sudden blow to the pelvis or femur may cause a break at the joint. This most commonly occurs in vehicle accidents and serious falls. Elderly patients are especially susceptible to hip fractures with falls.
- Dislocations – A dislocated hip occurs when the femur gets knocked out of its socket. This injury also occurs with vehicle accidents and serious falls. It can be dislocated forward or backward, and the surrounding ligaments and muscles can be damaged with this type of injury.
- Posterior dislocation: This is the most common type of dislocation at the hip joint. The femur (thigh bone) is pushed backward out of the socket. Typically, the leg will be in a fixed position of rotation inward to the middle of the body.
- Anterior dislocation: The femur is pushed forward out of the hip socket, and the leg will be rotated away from the body
- Sprains and strains – Stretched or torn ligaments or muscles result in a sprain. These injuries occur when you place too much pressure on your muscles and ligaments, which is common when lifting heavy objects, participating in sports, or with a dislocation as described above.
Repetitive motions can result in significant wear and tear to your hip. These injuries often occur in work environments or from athletic activities, and they can be quite painful. Common examples of repetitive motion injuries include:
- Bursitis – The bursa providing cushioning to your hip can fill with fluid and become swollen from repetitive movements, causing redness and sensitivity. It can also be damaged from trauma to the hip joint. This causes pain at the outside of the leg-hip junction.
- Tendonitis – The tendons in your hip can become damaged from overuse, causing painful inflammation in the tendon. The most common is hip flexor tendonitis, often seen in runners, causing pain with flexion and extension of the leg.
- Cartilage damage – The most common type of cartilage damage in the hip involves the labrum. This cartilage acts as a cushion, allowing smooth movement between the femur and the acetabulum. This can cause pain in the hip and the groin.
Damage to nerves in the hip are uncommon, however, nerve compression in the low back can present as pain in the hip area:
- Nerve Pain – This issue is usually caused by nerve compression. It is often associated with numbness, tingling, or burning sensations along the buttock and can extend down to the leg and foot. In severe cases, you may experience weakness of the leg.
- Piriformis Syndrome – This issue is associated with a congenital anatomical anomaly where the sciatic nerve traverses through the fibers of the piriformis muscle instead of behind them. This can irritate the nerve and cause pain in the buttocks and hips and even into the leg on the affected side. A spasm of the piriformis muscle can itself cause buttock and hip pain.
Arthritis can develop from inflammation of the hip joint, causing pain and stiffness which gets worse over time. The most common types of arthritis impacting the hip include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This occurs when your immune system attacks your hip joint, causing swelling and pain.
- Osteoarthritis – This develops when the cartilage in your hip breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. Osteoarthritis results in pain and stiffness.
- Femoroacetabular Joint – This occurs at the junction of the femur with the acetabulum when the cartilage surrounding the femur deteriorates. It can cause pain at the side of the hip as well as in the groin.
- Sacroiliac Joint – This occurs at the junction of the sacrum with the pelvis. It can cause pai