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7 Common Causes of Hip Pain and Treatment Options

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Your hip joints are among the biggest weight-bearing joints in your body, and that means they wind up being subjected to a lot of daily wear and tear.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Your hip joints are among the biggest weight-bearing joints in your body, and that means they wind up being subjected to a lot of daily wear and tear.

What are some common hip joint pain causes?

Not surprisingly, hip pain is a common medical complaint among both women and men. It’s tempting to think of hip pain as a problem that affects mostly older people. But the fact is, anyone can develop pain in the hip joint. What’s more, since you use your hips for so many activities, lots of underlying problems can cause those painful symptoms from a number of common hip joint pain causes. But there is some good news: Even though hip pain is uncomfortable, in most cases it can be treated conservatively, without major surgical intervention.

How do you evaluate hip pain?

Whether your hip pain is chronic (long-lasting) or acute (developing quickly), the first step in relieving those painful symptoms is to schedule an exam with Dr. Van Thiel. As a top-ranked orthopaedic specialist in Rockford, Dr. Van Thiel uses state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques to identify the cause of pain. During your office visit, Dr. Van Thiel will ask you to describe your hip joint pain symptoms in as much detail as possible. When describing your pain, think about:

  • Other symptoms you’re having, like stiffness or clicking sensations
  • If you have hip pain when walking, when placing weight on your leg, or when you’re lying or sitting still
  • The location of your pain (specifically, whether you have inner or outer hip pain, pain near your groin, or pain in your buttocks)
  • If your pain is sharp or “shooting,” or if it’s a more persistent ache
  • If you have severe hip pain or if your pain is more mild
  • Does your hip pain carry into other areas of your body

After reviewing your symptoms, Dr. Van Thiel will examine your hip joint to assess its function. Based on the results of the exam, he may order diagnostic imaging to gather more information.

7 Common Causes of Hip Joint Pain

Any type of pain is a sign of a problem, so it’s only natural to be a little worried about your discomfort. Many people worry hip joint pain is an indication they’ll need joint replacement surgery. Others may wonder if their hip pain is caused by cancer. The fact is, most hip joint pain and stiffness are caused by far simpler issues that can be treated with physical therapy or similar options.


Arthritis is one of the most common causes of hip pain, caused by wear and tear on the joint surfaces. Although osteoarthritis is more commonly associated with older people, young people can have arthritis too, especially athletes and other people with very active lifestyles.

Osteoarthritis Treatment

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is not a reversible condition. However, there are a number of treatments that can reduce pain and improve mobility. Doctors may recommend common over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help relieve mild to moderate pain.

Labral Tears

Your hip joint has two main “parts” – a round ball portion and a “scooped-out” socket. A tough ring of cartilage, called the labrum, surrounds the socket and helps hold the ball in place. Sometimes, a fall or other injury can tear the labrum, resulting in painful symptoms. A torn labrum also increases your risks of dislocation and joint instability.

Labral Tear Treatment

Depending on the severity of the tear, treatments can range from rest and over-the-counter medications to arthroscopic surgery to repair or replace the torn labrum. Physical therapy is also essential in both treatment and recovery to regain full movement of the hip joint.

Hip Sprains and Strains

Your hip joint contains ligaments and tendons that hold the joint together and aid in movement. A sprain occurs when a ligament stretches or tears. A strain is a similar type of injury, but it affects the tendons or muscles of the hip. Both strains and sprains usually result from overuse, and both tend to cause pain when you move your hip.

Hip Sprain Treatment

Generally non-invasive treatment is recommended for a hip sprain or strain. Rest, regular icing of the affected area, and use of over-the-counter medications are usually all that’s required. For severe injuries, corticosteroid injections and other doctor prescribed treatments may be necessary.

Hip Bursitis

Bursae are tiny fluid-filled sacs around the hip joint. These sacs act like cushions to protect soft tissues when you move your hip joint. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes irritated or inflamed. Most people with bursitis have pain when they move their hip or put weight on it.

Hip Bursitis Treatment

Hip bursitis generally heals on its own over time. Physical therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, and possibly corticosteroid injections will relieve hip bursitis. It may sometimes be necessary to surgically drain an inflamed bursa, but only rarely.

Hip Fracture

Fractures typically cause severe hip pain, as well as swelling, bruising or tenderness in other areas. Most people with hip fractures have significant pain whether they’re moving or lying still.

Hip Fracture Treatment

An x-ray or MRI is required to determine if someone has a hip fracture and the severity of the injury. Surgery, rehabilitation, and medicine are usually required in the case of a hip fracture. Internal screws can be inserted to treat a minor fracture. However, total or partial hip replacement may be needed to fully correct the injury.


Tendons are thick “cords” that attach your bones to your muscles. These tendons allow for muscles to use our bones as structure in movements. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated, often as a result of overuse or repetitive use.

Tendonitis Treatment

Reducing pain and inflammation are the goals for tendonitis treatment. In most cases, tendonitis will heal on its own with rest, regular icing, and over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs. It may also be necessary for your doctor to provide corticosteroid injections for tendonitis to fully heal.

Hip Dislocation

Hip dislocation occurs when the ball part of your hip joint slips out of the socket. Most people with hip dislocation have significant pain, and they’re unable to put weight on their hip.

Hip Dislocation Treatment

Initially, a doctor will try to relocate the hip. A patient will often require sedation, as a hip relocation may be painful. If the hip cannot be relocated, then the doctor will perform an CT scan to determine if bone fragments or other issues are preventing relocation. Finally, a doctor may perform arthroscopic surgery to repair any damage and fully relocate the hip.

How to Stop Hip Joint Pain

No matter what causes your hip pain, one thing’s for sure: You want it to stop. The first step in relieving hip pain is to schedule an office visit with Dr. Van Thiel. Once he examines your hip joint and evaluates your symptoms, he’ll prescribe a course of hip pain treatment that’s right for you. If you’re having hip pain, don’t delay care. Call the office at   or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Van Thiel treats patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit.

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