Hip Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

Many of us have been unlucky enough to experience hip pain at some point, and understand how much it can affect our daily lives. Hip pain is a common issue that affects people of all ages, and it can have many different causes. Luckily, treatment for hip pain is often readily available. Learn more about the causes and symptoms of hip pain below – as well as some useful at-home exercises to help relieve it. 

Hip Pain Causes

Hip pain may be the result of a number of issues – from injury, to age, to lifestyle. Some typical causes of hip pain are:

  • Arthritis: A chronic condition that causes joint inflammation and the gradual breakdown of knee tissue and cartilage. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which affects 80% of people aged over 55 - 60% of those being female.i, ii, iii, viii
  • Injuries: Injuries can cause damage or strain to hip joints and muscles. Hip injuries are more common in older people (as they generally have weaker bones and are more prone to falls), runners and people who play sports.ii, iii
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae (the fluid-filled sacs that cover your hip joint), can cause pain and discomfort.ii, iii
  • Referred pain: Pain that is actually occurring in the lower back or spine can sometimes be felt in the hip, as these parts of the body share the same nerves. In some cases, the brain can become confused, sending pain signals to the hip instead.iv, v 

Always consult a doctor for an official diagnosis of the cause of your hip pain. They will be able to recommend the best treatment or recovery plan to suit you.

Hip Pain Symptoms

Depending on the cause of your hip pain, your symptoms – and how severe they are – will vary. However, you will likely experience some of these common symptoms: iv

  • Dull or sharp pain in the left, right or both hips
  • Soreness in the hip joint
  • A locking or clicking sensation
  • Pain in the outer hip and surrounding area (buttock, lower back, thigh, groin or knee)
  • Weakness or tingling in the affected area

Speak to a doctor as soon as possible if any of the following occur: vi

  • Your hip pain is sudden or intense
  • The pain is the result of a serious injury or a fall
  • You can't move or put weight on your hip or leg
  • You notice swelling, bleeding or an obvious physical abnormality
  • You develop a fever with your hip pain

Hip Pain Relief

Your doctor may recommend some of these treatment options, depending on the severity of your pain:

  • Rest and at-home care: Avoid any unnecessary physical activity. Climbing stairs, playing sports or running can worsen hip pain.iv You may also want to apply a heat or ice pack to the affected hip to ease any inflammation or pain. 
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relief, such as Panadol or ibuprofen, can temporarily ease hip pain. If the pain is more severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication. For osteoarthritis-related pain, try Panadol Osteo for up to 24 hours of effective and sustained relief.vi
  • Physiotherapy: For chronic hip pain, you may be referred on to a physiotherapist for hip stretches or strengthening exercises to treat the underlying cause.vi
  • Injections or Surgery: In more serious cases, your doctor may recommend that you have corticosteroid injections, which can help ease hip inflammation and discomfort for up to three months. Rarely, surgery may be required to treat the cause of your hip pain.vi, vii

Hip Pain Exercises and Stretches

Discover some easy at-home exercises and stretches for hip pain below.

If you have had a previous injury, are currently injured or don’t know how to undertake these stretches safely, check with your doctor or specialist. Do not stretch to the point of pain. Stretches should be gentle and slow, never bouncy.
 

Pelvic Circles

Stand with hands on hips and feet apart. Circle the hips by pushing them to the right, out the back, to the left and to the front. Repeat 5 times, then change direction.


Side Stretch

With a rod or light broom handle on shoulders and keeping the torso straight, lean to the left, then the right. Hold stretches for 10 seconds.


Hip and Lower Back Stretch

Lying on your back, clasp your bent knees with your hands and pull them towards your shoulders. Breathe in deeply and exhale, bringing your knees closer as you breathe out.


Double Hip Rotation

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, gently lower your knees to one side and turn your head to the opposite side. Bring your knees back to the centre and repeat on the other side.

 

SOURCES

i. Effects of Osteoarthritis on Quality of life in Elderly Population of Bhubaneswar, India: A Prospective Multicenter Screening and Therapeutic Study of 2854 Patients. Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647192/pdf/10.1177_2151458515604357.pdf. Accessed 24/01/20.

ii.  Hip pain. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hip-pain/. Accessed 24/01/20.

iii. Hip pain (Symptoms & causes). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/hip-p ain/basics/causes/sym-20050684. Accessed 24/01/20.

iv. Hip pain. Pain Specialists Australia. https://painspecialistsaustralia.com.au/hip-pain. Accessed 24/01/20.

v. Hip pain. Pain Management.Org. https://www.painmanagement.org.au/2014-09-11-13-34-03/2014-09-11-13-35-16/271-hip-pain.html. Accessed 24/01/20.

vi. Hip pain. Health Direct. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/hip-pain

vii. Hip and knee osteoarthritis. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/key-racgp-guidelines/view-all-racgp-guidelines/hip-and-knee-osteoarthritis/recommendations-(1)/pharmacological-interventions/intra-articular-injections. Accessed 24/01/20.

viii. What is osteoarthritis? Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis/contents/what-is-osteoarthritis. Accessed 24/01/20. 

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