How to Know When Hip Pain is Serious

Hip Arthoscopy - Conditions & Treatments

Hips are a powerful and important part of the body, providing us with strength and balance. When mobility and stability are impacted by pain in the hips, our entire lives are impacted. Learn about some of the causes of hip pain, how to address acute issues, and how to identify when hip pain is serious and requires immediate attention.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Since people can experience varying degrees of hip pain, identifying the most common causes depend on what kind of hip pain you are referring to. Below are three common causes associated with hip pain.


The most common cause of long-term hip pain is arthritis, which can develop in different forms. Osteoarthritis can result from physical injuries such as age-related wear of the cartilage surrounding joints or joint trauma like a fracture. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissue, including joints. RA can result in joint pain, swelling, and stiffness throughout the body, including in the hips.


Tendonitis, often caused by too much exercise, is the most common cause of acute hip pain. It develops when tendons become irritated or inflamed and movement can become difficult on the affected joints. While the condition itself can be quite painful, it usually heals within a few days.

Hip Fractures

Hip fractures are often seen in older adults and individuals with osteoporosis, a weakening and thinning of the bones. Hip fractures can be sudden, very painful, and require immediate medical attention. Surgery and physical therapy are usually necessary following a fracture.

Treating Acute and Temporary Hip Pain

Pain indicates that your body is trying to communicate something to you, so while not all pain is debilitating, any pain should be acknowledged and addressed properly. The cause of hip pain can stem from several factors and manifest in different ways.

As far as severity goes, in some cases, treatment of acute or temporary pain can be relieved with self-care treatments. Even if a self-care treatment is appropriate, a proper diagnosis of the cause of pain is important since the type and duration of treatment recommended are often influenced by the root cause.

Once you have a diagnosis, self-care might be an option for treating your hip pain. Exercises, rest, the use of heat and cold, and overnight practices to alleviate pain that develops during sleep can be effective.

If self-care treatments are not working or you experience more intense symptoms, your hip pain might be more serious and require attention right away.

How to Know When Hip Pain is Serious

In some cases, immediate medical attention might be encouraged or required. While a professional diagnosis is the best way to assess what is causing unexplained hip pain and how it should be addressed, there are some symptoms that indicate more serious problems and the need for immediate care.

The sudden onset of pain can be one indicator of a more serious issue. Sudden swelling and popping noises are also signs to see a doctor. Symptoms, however, do not have to be sudden to be serious. Signs of infection, such as minor pain or swelling, can occur and should be treated immediately as well.

In some cases, hip pain can occur following an issue with or injury to another area of the body, such as a head injury. Back and other chronic joint pain can develop following traumatic brain injuries.

Of course, some serious symptoms are more obvious, including:

  • The inability to move your leg or hip
  • Bleeding of the hip
  • The inability to bear weight on the affected leg
  • Exposed bone or muscle
  • A join that appears deformed

As noted when exploring common causes of hip pain, no pain is normal and any pain should be acknowledged and addressed appropriately. When it comes to hips, different conditions, diseases, and injuries can lead to different symptoms and impact the overall severity of pain.

Choosing the Right Doctor for Your Hip Pain

Multiple studies have demonstrated how significant the learning curve is for hip arthroscopy and the difference experienced surgeons make in shortening operative times, reducing complications, and achieving better results.

Dr. Van Thiel, who has performed hundreds of hip arthroscopy procedures, and The Hip Arthroscopy Center team make deciding what doctor to see for hip pain an easy choice.

Schedule an appointment today with a team committed to your success.

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