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Hip pain

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, where the head of the thigh bone (femur) meets the pelvis (acetabulum). It forms a connection from the lower limb to the pelvic girdle, and is designed for stability and weight-bearing. As a result, there is a complexity of ligaments, tendons and muscles acting on the joint.

What are the common causes of hip pain?

Common causes of musculoskeletal related pains tend to originate from bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. These symptoms tend to settle with time and good self-management.

These pains may be a result of an acute injury or a flare up of a longstanding issue. Simple advice is keep active and keep moving, it will often settle with time.

Click on the following information to find out about common conditions related with hip pain.

Common conditions of the Hip

See below for the common signs and symptoms with a link to the MSK Matters page on how best to manage it.

Osteoarthritis of the hip

  • Pain is often felt into the groin.
  • Referred pain to buttock, thigh and occasionally the knee

  • Stiffness for 30 minutes or less first thing in the morning or after resting for long periods

  • Reduced range of movement of the hip

  • Noise or crepitus on movement

  • Pain on walking, stairs, or standing for long periods

  • Pain and restricted movement putting shoes and socks on

Lateral (Outer) hip pain

  • Pain is located on the outside of the hip and can spread down the thigh
  • Pain often worse on walking, running and prolonged standing

  • Pain when pressing on side of the hip – often painful to lie on that side

  • Pain on crossing legs

Hip impingement

  • Pain is often a deep, intermittent discomfort in the groin
  • There may be a catching or pinching sensation in the groin
  • Less common symptoms are buttock pain, pain on the outside of the hip or low back pain.
  • Pain during or after activity
  • Sprinting, kicking sports, hill walking and prolonged sitting in a low chair are common activities which can cause pain

Iliopsoas syndrome

  • Pain is felt at the front of the hip and the thigh
  • On occasions a clicking sensation of the structures at the front of the hip is felt
  • Pain is often worse with lifting the knee up to the chest

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Is your pain coming from somewhere else?

Hip pain may be as a result of referred pain from your lower back. If you think that this is the case please discuss this with your health care professional or refer yourself to a physiotherapist for help with management.

Your hip may also cause referred pain into the thigh, knee or lower leg. This referred pain should improve as your hip improves.

When to seek medical advice

The above advice can help you to manage your condition at home. The majority of musculoskeletal conditions get better within six to eight weeks although sometimes they can persist for longer but this doesn’t mean there is something seriously wrong.

However, rarely, musculoskeletal symptoms can be caused by something more serious and it is important for you to know when to seek advice. We would advise if you experience any of the following you should seek the advice of you GP.


  • the pain you are experiencing is getting worse rather than better despite following the self-management guidance above for the condition  in the time frame expected
  • symptoms have not been significantly helped by a trial of medication as expected
  • you feel unwell and suffer symptom such as fever, night sweats or weight loss
  • you experience pain at night, possibly worse than during the day that prevents you from sleeping due to increasing pain and/or difficulty lying flat.
  • you experience a change in your ability to walk including balance problems or weakness/heaviness in your legs
  • you develop a hot and swollen joint for no apparent reason
  • early morning stiffness, lasting for longer than 30 minutes