Hip Pain

How does the hip work?

Your hip is a very stable and strong joint. It’s known as a ball-and-socket joint. This is because the top of the thigh bone is shaped like a ball. This ‘ball’ sits inside a hollow socket in your pelvis. Ball-and-socket joints give the most movement of all the different types of joints in the body.

The hip joint is held together by a covering of muscles which are secured to the bones by strong cords called tendons. These muscles and tendons form a capsule around the joint and support its movements. They help move the joint, supporting your leg and upper body movement.  Inside the capsule is the synovium, which lubricates the joint with synovial fluid and keeps the cartilage healthy. The cartilage sits between the bones of your hip joint to allow smooth movement of the joint and reduces any impact when you walk or move your hip.

As the hip joint is very deep and there is a lot of muscle support it is very stable, it is unusual for the hip to become dislocated, even after a high-impact injury.

Causes of Hip Pain

Most of the time there is a very simple explanation for hip pain.

If you’ve overdone it while exercising pain is usually caused by strained or inflamed soft tissues, such as tendons, and it often clears up within a few days to weeks.

As you get older, pain in your hip can flare up now and again, often for no reason. If you have a problem with your hip joint you may feel pain in the groin, down the front of the leg and in the knee. Sometimes knee pain is the only sign of a hip problem – this is called referred pain or radiated pain and is fairly common.

You may feel pain on the outside of your hip or in your buttock – though this can also be caused by problems with your lower back.

If you have previously had a total hip replacement or dynamic hip screw (metal plating for a hip fracture) and have developed
new or unusual hip pain several years after having the operation, please arrange an appointment to discuss with you GP.

If you have fallen

If you’ve fallen, hurt your hip and your finding it difficult to put weight on your leg you may need to see a doctor.

You should urgently call CAV 24/7 on 0300 1020247, as fractures around the hip are very common, particularly in elderly people with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis makes bones less dense and fragile, so they break or fracture more easily.

Self Help

Keeping active is an essential part of your treatment and recovery and is the single best thing you can do for your health.

  • Prevent a recurrence of the problem
  • Maintain your current levels of fitness – even if you have to modify what you normally do, any activity is better than none
  • Keep your other muscles and joints strong and flexible
  • Keep a healthy body weight
It’s recommended you stay at or return to work as quickly as possible during your recovery. You don’t need to be pain and symptom-free to return to work.
  • Rest your hip but avoid long spells of not moving at all
  • Move your hip gently for 10 to 20 seconds every hour when you are awake
  • Slowly return to normal activity
  • Do whatever you normally would including staying at, or return to work if possible
  • Avoid sports or heavy lifting until you have less discomfort and good movement. Remember to warm up fully before you start sporting activities

If you would like advice about medication or other methods of pain relief to help you to manage your pain better speak to your community pharmacist.

Pain medication can help to reduce pain and help you to move more comfortably, which can aid your recovery.

When taking pain medication it is important to take it regularly.

If you’re waiting for hip or knee joint replacement surgery please refer to the following page:
How to prepare for Surgery for further information

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