The hip joint can withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear. This ball-and-socket joint — the body’s largest — fits together in a way that allows for fluid movement. Despite its durability, the hip joint isn’t indestructible. With age and use, the cartilage can wear down or become damaged. Muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused. Bones in the hip can break during a fall or other injury.

Causes of Hip Pain

  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Muscle or tendon strain

If your hip pain is caused by a muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis, you can usually relieve it with an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Another way to relieve hip pain is by holding ice to the area for about 15 minutes a few times a day. Try to rest the affected joint as much as possible until you feel better. You may also try heating the area. A warm bath or shower can help ready your muscle for stretching exercises that can lessen pain.

If you have arthritis, exercising the hip joint with low-impact exercises, stretching, and resistance training can reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Physical therapy can also help increase your range of motion.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Get medical help right away if:

  • The hip pain came on suddenly
  • A fall or other injury triggered the hip pain
  • Your joint looks deformed or is bleeding
  • You heard a popping noise in the joint when you injured it
  • The pain is intense
  • You can’t put any weight on your hip
  • You can’t move your leg or hip

Surgical Options

When non-surgical options have failed to relieve joint pain, surgery is next step. Below are brief descriptions of common procedures that are utilized for hip pain.

Hip Arthroscopy

Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that involves making small incisions in the skin and inserting a pencil-sized arthroscope into the hip joint. The arthroscope is attached to a video camera that transmits the image of your hip to a television monitor allowing your surgeon to examine the interior of your hip. Your surgeon may then be able to determine the source of your hip pain and treat the condition.

A hip arthroscopy is most often performed on young, active adults to remove loose bodies from the hip joint, the removal of torn or loose portions of the labrum and treatment of the articular cartilage of the hip joint. Through small incisions, the surgeon inserts video probes to allow them to see the joint and take corrective action.

Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery is one of the most common types of orthopaedic surgery. Hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which a hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. This may be recommended due to arthritis or a hip fracture. Both standard and minimally invasive procedures are available. After a brief hospital stay, physical therapy can help you learn to use your new joint. This therapy may continue for weeks or months. Total recovery time may take up to a year, and your doctor will explain what activities will help or hinder your recovery.