x-ray with highlighted hip bones

As the largest weight-bearing joint in the body, hips are very susceptible to injury and pain.

Pain that stems from the hip joint itself typically shows up on the inner hip, while pain on your outer hip, upper thighs, or buttocks is usually the result of issues with the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the area.

What are the causes of hip pain?

Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is one of the most common causes of hip pain. The pain will not only move throughout the hip, it will also radiate down the legs.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the chronic breakdown of cartilage that normally cushions the joints. When osteoarthritis affects the hips, it starts to wear on the cartilage that prevents the femoral head from making direct contact with the pelvis. After breakdown, the bones rub together when they move, causing pain and difficulty moving.

Your body may try to compensate by growing new pieces of bone called spurs that cause additional pain and immobility. Conversely, stiffness can become worse after extended periods of inactivity.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by your body’s own immune system. A malfunctioning immune system will sometimes attack the joint membrane known as synovium, thinking that it is a threat. To counteract, the synovium begins the repair process, which includes chronic inflammation in the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also attack joints in the hips. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the hips
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warm sensation

Since the body will not stop attacking the synovium on its own, untreated rheumatoid arthritis can permanently damage the joints in the hips, causing a loss of hip function.

Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common diseases that affects children in the United States. If arthritis begins before age 16, therapists consider it to be juvenile arthritis. Young people with arthritis in the hips will experience the same symptoms as adults struggling with hip pain.

Injury

Injuries around your thighs or hips can cause pain to the area. Activities such as playing sports or uncontrollable events like car accidents can dislodge joints and cause skeletal systems to malfunction.

If you live an active lifestyle or have recently been in a serious accident and feel these symptoms, see a physical therapist or other medical professional:

  • Sudden hip pain
  • Bleeding, swollen, or deformed joint
  • Discernable pop sound upon injury
  • Intense pain
  • Trouble performing normal movement

These are signs that you have sustained considerable injury to your hip that can cause permanent damage if left untreated.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis occurs from overuse of the muscle and typically feels like a dull ache when moving the joint. The ache may be accompanied by mild swelling or tenderness to the touch.

Tendonitis is common in high-impact activities like sports and military training.

Bursitis

Bursitis is a disorder that affects bursae in your hips. Bursae are the fluid-filled sacs that provide a smooth surface between moving tissues in the body.

There are two major bursae in your hip: the trochanteric bursa on the outer side of the hip and the ischial bursa near the gluteal region and the SITS bone. If either of the bursae becomes inflamed, you may feel numbness, tingling, stiffness, or pain in the affected area. Hip bursitis is often seen in runners, dancers, and older adults.

Hernia

Over 5 million people suffer from hernias every year.

Inguinal and femoral hernias are sometimes referred to as “sports hernias” because they are usually the result of vigorous physical activity. Overworking the body causes organs to be displaced. When the organs breach their containing wall, they become herniated.

Hernias are accompanied by a sharp, sudden pain in the lower abdomen or groin. They are visible from the outside through bulge in the abdomen where the pain is centered. Hernias do not heal without treatment and worsen over time.

Search for physical signs of a hernia if you experience sharp, debilitating pains. Seek treatment as soon as possible.

How do I treat hip pain?

Hip pain is best treated with a combination of physical therapy and medical help. Physical therapy guides patients toward regaining their strength and flexibility after experiencing hip problems.

What do physical therapists do for hip pain?

Your physical therapist will help you recover with the help of guided stretching and exercise.

Stretches

  • Hip Rotation
    Lay flat with knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Move the hips and knees in a full range of motion from your left side to your right side, then back to the middle.
  • Knee to Chest Stretch
    Lay flat with knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Wrap your hands around your knee and pull it toward your chest to achieve end range flexion. Switch knees.

 

  • Straight Leg Raise
    Lay flat with one knee at a 90 degree angle and the other leg outstretched. Lift the outstretched leg as high as is comfortable and lower it. Switch legs.

 

woman performing knee to chest stretch
  • Knee Crossover
    Lay on your side with your lower leg slightly bent. Move the foot of your higher leg to the knee of the lower leg and drop the knee down. Switch sides.

 

  • Side Kick
    Lay on your side with your lower leg slightly bent. Raise your outstretched higher leg directly upward as high as is comfortable and lower it. Switch sides.

 

Exercise

Your physical therapist may also work with you to restore motion needed for everyday activities. Therapy may include:

 

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Light Weightlifting
  • Resistance Training

 

All exercises will be tailored to the level of hip pain you experience and its cause.

Work closely with your trusted medical professional and your physical therapist to combat hip pain and restore mobility.

BioMotion Physical Therapy provides an advanced, well-equipped facility and training from experienced therapists who want to help you recover. Call us today if you’re in the Schertz, TX area and are experiencing hip pain to get started on the road to recovery!