Causes of hip joint pain vary, but all of them can add unwanted discomfort to your day. The hip joint is one of the largest and most stable joints in the body, and it’s involved in a number of various daily tasks that we often take for granted.
Pain in the hip joint area can flare up from simple tasks such as going up or down the stairs, or getting in and out of the car. If you’ve found yourself wondering: “What is causing my hip pain?” you’ve come to the right place.
Today we will provide a clear list of potential causes of hip joint pain. Understanding the symptoms and location of hip pain will leave you more informed when you next talk to a medical professional.
Some causes of hip joint pain will subside over time with rest, but others require more immediate attention. With that in mind, let’s learn a little more about the hip itself:
Understanding the hip joint
Our hips are large ball-and-socket joints that help to keep us stabilized. This type of joint allows for a wide range of movement, especially compared to a hinge joint like our knees. The hip itself is formed by the head of the femur (thigh bone) fitting into the socket of the pelvis.
Inside the hip joint, a layer of cartilage protects the bones from rubbing together. There are also multiple ligaments (like the iliofemoral and pubofemoral ligaments) that help hold it all together – as well as numerous tendons.
The hip is very important for many of our movements, from walking and sitting to climbing and crouching. So knowing the causes of hip joint pain won’t just help us to continue with an exercise routine as we get older, but with general mobility as a whole.
With that in mind, let’s look at several different causes of hip joint pain.
8 causes of hip joint pain
If you’re asking: “What is causing my hip pain?” then this list is for you. Knowing the causes of hip joint pain will provide clarity for finding hip pain treatment.
Here are some of the most common causes of hip joint pain:
Osteoarthritis is undoubtedly one of the most common causes of hip joint pain, so this is the best place to start our list.
Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in the hip joint wears away over time. Cartilage is made from tough collagen protein, and its function is to act like a protective cushion between the bones, allowing them to move smoothly.
There are several reasons cartilage can break down. It can happen as we get older, or it can be due to genetic factors. Previous injuries to the joint and repetitive stress on the hip can also play a role.
As the cartilage wears away, the bones become rough and thin, and they can even make direct contact with each other. This rubbing causes inflammation and pain in the hip joint.
Osteoarthritis can also lead to the formation of bony outgrowths called bone spurs. These spurs can make the joint feel even more painful and can restrict movement.
Sadly, osteoarthritis can result in chronic hip pain, stiffness, and limited movement. But there are many treatment options for hip arthritis pain relief, including medication, physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and, in severe cases, surgery.
Cartilage isn’t the only cushioning feature of the hip joint. The hip also contains small fluid-filled sacs called bursae. Bursae are like little protective pillows that help reduce friction and provide smooth movement in the hip joint. However, when they get irritated, they can cause hip pain.
Why can bursae become inflamed? Repetitive motions or prolonged pressure on the hip joint, from activities like running, kneeling, or prolonged sitting, can lead to bursitis. Injuries, like a fall or a direct blow to the hip, can also cause bursae to become inflamed and painful.
When bursitis occurs in the hip, the inflamed bursae can swell and put pressure on surrounding tissues and nerves, resulting in discomfort and pain. The pain is often felt on the outer side of the hip and can radiate down the thigh or buttock.
The problem can get worse, as activities that involve movements like walking, climbing stairs, or getting up from a seated position can worsen symptoms. The pain may be sharp or aching, and you may experience swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the hip area.
Bursitis may go away on its own, or may require a simple surgery to drain the excess fluid.
Tendons are cord-like tissues that connect muscles to bone. These ropelike connections give us stability when we walk or move, but like many parts of the body, tendons in the hip can become inflamed or irritated. This is referred to as tendonitis and is one of the most common causes of hip joint pain.
Repetitive activities that involve the hip joint, such as running, jumping, or dancing, can strain the tendons over time. Incorrect form or technique during physical activities can also contribute to tendon irritation. Additionally, sudden increases in exercise intensity or duration can overload the tendons, leading to tendonitis.
Tendonitis can cause pain in the outer part of the hip or along the front of the thigh. The pain may worsen with movement, especially activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or getting up from a seated position.
Inflamed tendons can feel tender to the touch, and the surrounding area may appear swollen or warm. The hip joint may feel stiff, and there may be a sensation of tightness or discomfort.
It's important to gradually ease back into activities to avoid re-aggravating the tendons. Modifying activities or using proper techniques can help prevent future occurrences of tendonitis.
If symptoms persist or worsen, a healthcare professional may recommend further evaluation or other treatment options, such as corticosteroid injections or, rarely, surgical intervention.
4. Hip fractures
Hip fractures take place when bone in the hip joint breaks as a result of serious impact, such as a fall. In some cases, weakened bones due to conditions like osteoporosis can make the hip more susceptible to fractures.
Understandably, this type of injury can cause severe hip pain. The pain is typically felt in the hip area, but it can also radiate to the groin, thigh, or buttock. The affected leg may appear shortened or rotated, and moving or putting weight on the hip can be excruciatingly painful.
As well as pain, a hip fracture will severely reduce mobility in the joint.
5. Muscle strains
Muscle strains, or “pulled muscles,” are one of the common causes of hip joint pain. Overexertion or sudden movements, such as forcefully twisting or lifting, can strain your muscles.
Repetitive activities, insufficient warm-ups, or inadequate stretching before physical activities can increase the risk of muscle strains. It’s always worth stretching well before exercise, even if the exercise is gentle.
When a muscle strain occurs in the hip, it can cause localized pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may get worse with movement, particularly with activities that use the hip muscles.
The hip muscles may feel tight or stiff, and there may be swelling or bruising around the strained area. The range of motion in the hip joint may be limited, and there might be difficulty in performing certain movements, such as walking, climbing stairs, or bending.
6. Hip labral tears
Next on our list of causes of hip joint pain is hip labral tears. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the hip joint, and a hip labral tear is when that cartilage gets damaged or torn.
As we learned previously, like all cartilage, the labrum in the hip acts as a cushion and provides stability to the joint. It helps to keep the ball-shaped end of the thigh bone (femur) securely in the hip socket.
Hip labral tears can happen due to sports activities, repetitive movements, trauma, or structural difficulties in the hip joint.
When a labral tear occurs it can cause pain, usually felt deep in the groin or on the side of the hip. The pain may be sharp or aching and can worsen with activities such as walking, bending, or twisting.
Other symptoms of a hip labral tear can include a feeling of catching or locking in the hip joint, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion. These are symptoms you can bring up with your doctor if you think that a hip labral tear is causing your hip pain.
7. A pinched nerve
One of the common causes of hip joint pain are pinched or impinged nerves. A pinched nerve can feel like radiating “pins and needles,” numbness, or a sharp pain in the thigh, hip, and groin. You may also experience a restricted range of motion with pinched nerves.
Pinched nerves can be caused by injury, repetitive motions, improper stretching, or simply sleeping in a strange position! Luckily physical therapy, stretching, and anti-inflammatories are helpful in relieving pain from pinched nerves.
8. Inguinal hernia
Last on our list of causes of hip joint pain is an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs when intestines or other internal tissues jut out through a weak spot in your ab muscles. This can result in pain and discomfort.
If you notice a bulge near your hip or groin area, or have more discomfort when coughing, bending over, or lifting heavy objects, you might have an inguinal hernia. You should visit a doctor if you think an inguinal hernia is what is causing your hip pain.
Less common causes of hip joint pain
Our list of causes of hip joint pain is not comprehensive, but should be a great starting point for a conversation with your medical professional. You can absolutely experience sudden hip pain without injury, with osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis being the most common causes of hip joint pain.
It’s important to understand that these conditions develop gradually if your body is struggling to regulate and rejuvenate its cartilage or tendon structures. Because of this, it can be helpful to take a collagen supplement to ease your pain – and help prevent future issues.
Take collagen for hip joint pain relief
Collagen supplements can help fight against many causes of hip joint pain. In fact, collagen may be an option for hip cartilage repair without surgery! Collagen is the protein your body naturally uses to build new cartilage and tendon fibers, making it incredibly useful for healing joint ailments.
The best collagen for joints is a hydrolyzed collagen supplement. Also called “collagen peptides,” hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into microscopically small pieces, making it easily digestible.
You also want to ensure that your collagen supplement doesn’t contain any sugars or harmful additives. This is important because the majority of supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, and don’t need to back up claims.
Collagen that IS regulated by the FDA is called medical grade collagen. This is collagen that is trusted for use in medical facilities across the country. At ProT Gold, our medical grade collagen isn’t just hydrolyzed, it’s nano-hydrolyzed, making it fully absorbable in just 15 minutes or less.
If you’re looking for hip pain relief, taking a daily collagen supplement may help get you back on your feet. Talk with your doctor to see if collagen should be a part of your recovery plan.