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Common Causes of Hip Pain

person with hip pain

Hip pain can be a real downer, hindering your mobility and impacting your daily activities. Whether it's a dull ache, sharp twinge, or stiffness, understanding the common causes of hip pain is essential for finding the right solutions. In this blog post, we'll explore the most prevalent culprits behind hip pain and provide insights to help you better understand your condition. Let's dive in and uncover the secrets behind your hip discomfort.

hip, pelvis, low back skeleton showing bones, joints and muscles

Hip Anatomy

The hip is a remarkable joint that plays a crucial role in our daily activities, such as walking, running, and sitting. Understanding the anatomy of the hip can provide valuable insights into the common causes of hip pain.

  1. Bones: The hip joint is formed by the ball-shaped head of the femur (thigh bone) and the cup-shaped socket of the pelvis called the acetabulum. These bones work together to provide stability and support for the hip joint.

  2. Cartilage: Within the hip joint, there is a layer of smooth cartilage covering the ends of the femur and the acetabulum. This cartilage acts as a cushion and allows for smooth movement of the joint. There is also a ring of cartilage that deepens and helps stabilize the hip joint called the labrum.

  3. Muscles and Tendons: The hip is surrounded by a network of muscles and tendons that provide stability and facilitate movement. The muscles in the hip region, such as the glutes and hip flexors, work together to support the joint and allow for various motions, such as lifting the leg or rotating the hip.

  4. Bursae: Small fluid-filled sacs called bursae are located around the hip joint. These bursae help reduce friction between the bones, muscles, and tendons, allowing for smooth movement.

Understanding the anatomy of the hip can help us identify potential causes of hip pain. Issues such as hip arthritis, bursitis, muscle strains, or tendinitis can all contribute to hip pain and discomfort.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common cause of hip pain, especially in older adults. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. If you're experiencing hip pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest, osteoarthritis may be the culprit.

2. Bursitis

Hip bursitis refers to the inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning and reduce friction in the hip joint. Repetitive activities, trauma, or underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause bursitis. It often presents as pain on the outside of the hip that worsens with prolonged sitting or walking.

3. Muscle Strains and Tendinitis

Strained muscles or inflamed tendons around the hip joint can lead to pain and discomfort. Activities that involve repetitive motions, overuse, or sudden movements can result in strains or tendinitis. If you're experiencing hip pain that worsens with movement or specific activities, a muscle strain or tendinitis may be the cause.

4. Hip Labral Tears

The hip labrum is a ring of cartilage that helps stabilize the hip joint. Tears in the labrum can occur due to injury, structural abnormalities, or repetitive motions. Hip labral tears can cause pain in the groin or on the side of the hip and may be accompanied by clicking or locking sensations.

5. Hip Fractures

Hip fractures are more common in older adults and often result from falls or direct trauma. They can cause severe pain, difficulty bearing weight, and limited mobility. If you've experienced a recent fall or trauma and are experiencing intense hip pain, a fracture may be the cause.

When to Seek Help

If you're experiencing persistent or worsening hip pain, it's important to seek professional help. A qualified healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, can evaluate your condition, identify the underlying cause, and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Treatment Options

Treatment for hip pain depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Physical therapy is often recommended and may include exercises to improve hip strength, flexibility, and stability. Modalities such as heat, ice, and manual therapy techniques may also be used to reduce pain and promote healing.

Understanding the common causes of hip pain can empower you to take control of your condition and seek appropriate treatment. If you're experiencing hip pain that's interfering with your daily life, don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Nashville Physical Therapy & Performance. We're here to help you find relief, regain mobility, and get back to doing the things you love.


- Murphy, N. J., & Eyles, J. P. (2015). Hip pain in athletes. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 43(3), 252-261.

- Cross, M. B., et al. (2010). Hip pain in the young adult: Diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the acetabular labrum and hip impingement. American Journal of Orthopedics, 39(5), 242-251.

- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2019). Hip Bursitis. Retrieved from

- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2015). Osteoarthritis of the Hip. Retrieved from

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