Addressing the Source of Your Hip Pain

Hip pain is a common complaint, but it is often challenging to diagnose the source of the pain. If the pain is located inside the hip or groin, it may be due to problems within the hip joint. If the pain is coming from the buttocks, upper thigh or outside hip, you may have problems with the soft tissues surrounding the joint such as muscles, ligaments and tendons. When the pain originates from a hip-related structure instead of the hip itself, it is called referred pain (Source: Web MD).

The most common causes of hip pain include:

  • Injury such as tendonitis, hip fracture or dislocation
  • Arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pinched nerves

It is much easier to isolate the source of hip pain if you had a recent injury. A bad fall or car accident is not quickly forgotten, but arthritis or pinched nerves may develop slowly so it might be difficult to isolate an incident or event that initiated the pain.

The natural response to hip pain is to massage, stretch or apply pressure to the location of the pain. This is not recommended, and it can even make hip pain worse by causing increased inflammation and irritation. The best way to handle hip pain is to call your doctor. The likelihood is quite high that you may not be able to see your doctor immediately, so here are some tips to help you safely manage your hip pain:

1. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Cold therapy helps numb pain and ease inflammation.

2. Use good posture. Try to achieve a neutral spine to relieve stress on the hip.

3. Relax your body. Reduce stress and anxiety by deep breathing and self-relaxation.

4. Find low-impact exercises that do not worsen your pain. Swimming or walking are two activities that often help with mobility and movement.

In the days before your appointment, keep a log of your hip pain and write down any notes that might be helpful to your doctor. When did your hip begin hurting? Did an event or accident cause the pain? Where is your hip pain located? Does the pain move from one area to another? At what time of day is it most painful? Having several days of notes and observations can be a useful tool in diagnosis and treatment of your hip pain.