Hip Pain

Is this your symptom?

  • Pain in the hip

Causes

There are many possible causes of hip pain. Some common minor causes are:

  • Muscle overuse
  • Muscle strain
  • Muscle aches that occur with the common cold, the flu, and other viral illnesses.

Sometimes hip pain can be from arthritis. Arthritis means joint ("arthr") inflammation ("itis"). Pain is worse with walking or moving the inflamed joint. There are different types of arthritis. The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis:

  • This is also called "wear and tear" arthritis.
  • As people get older the cartilage in the joints wears down.
  • This type of arthritis often affects both sides of the body equally. The joints hurt and feel stiff.
  • Osteoarthritis is seen more often after age 50. Nearly everyone will get some wear and tear arthritis as they get older.

Other causes of hip pain are:

  • Bursitis
  • Cellulitis (skin infection)
  • Herpes zoster (shingles)
  • Sciatica (buttock and leg pain from a pinched sciatic nerve)

When Should You Seek Medical Help Right Away?

Here are some signs that the hip pain might be serious. You should seek medical help right away if:

  • Signs of infection occur (such as spreading redness, red streak, warmth)
  • Rash or blisters occur in the same area as pain

Pain Scale

  • None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

When to Call for Hip Pain

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Severe pain (can't stand or walk)
  • Fever and red area of skin
  • Weakness (loss of strength) in leg or foot of new onset
  • Numbness (loss of feeling) in leg or foot of new onset
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Looks like a boil, infected sore, or other infected rash
  • Red area of skin that is painful (or tender to touch)
  • Group of small blisters in same area as pain
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Hip pain keeps you from working or going to school
  • Hip pain lasts more than 7 days
  • Hip pains off and on for weeks or months (are frequent, come and go)
  • Leg numbness (loss of feeling) or tingling (pins and needles feeling) for weeks or months
  • Limping when walking
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild hip pain
  • Caused by strained muscle
  • Caused by overuse from recent vigorous activity (such as aerobics, jogging/running, physical work)

Care Advice

Mild Hip Pain

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Hip pain can be caused by many things. Muscle aches can occur with the common cold, the flu, and other viral illnesses. Muscle strain and overuse can cause hip pain. Hip pain can also be caused by arthritis, bursitis, or a pinched nerve in the back (sciatica).
    • The best way to treat hip pain will depend on the exact cause.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. What to Expect:
    • Muscle aches from the common cold, the flu, and other viral illness most often last just 2 to 3 days.
    • Minor muscle strain and overuse should start to get better in a couple days. The pain should go away within one week.
    • Pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis) can be chronic. That is, it can last weeks, months or years. Sometimes the pain can flare up and then get better after a couple days.
    • What to expect in other cases will depend on the cause of pain.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain
    • Pain keeps you from doing normal activities (such as school, work)
    • Pain lasts more than 7 days
    • Signs of infection occur (such as spreading redness, red streak, warmth)
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Muscle Strain or Overuse

  1. What You Should Know - Muscle Strain:
    • A muscle strain occurs from over-stretching or tearing a muscle. People often call this a "pulled muscle." This muscle injury can occur while playing a sport or lifting something. Sometimes it can also occur while doing normal activities.
    • People often describe a sharp pain or popping when the muscle strain occurs. The muscle pain worsens when moving the hip or leg.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. What You Should Know - Overuse:
    • Sore muscles are common following vigorous activity (such as running, sports, weight lifting, and moving furniture). This can happen when your body is not used to this amount of activity.
    • Overused muscles often feel achy and sore all over.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  3. Apply a Cold Pack:
    • Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes. Repeat this in 1 hour and then every 4 hours while awake.
    • Do this for the first 48 hours after an injury.
    • This will help decrease pain and swelling.
  4. Apply Heat to the Area:
    • Beginning 48 hours after an injury, apply a warm washcloth or heating pad for 10 minutes 3 times a day.
    • This will help increase blood flow and improve healing.
  5. Hot Shower:
    • If stiffness lasts over 48 hours, relax in a hot shower twice a day.
    • Gently move the leg under the falling water.
  6. Rest vs. Movement:
    • Complete rest should only be used for the first day or two after an injury.
    • Staying active helps muscle healing more than resting does.
    • Continue normal activities as much as your pain permits.
    • Avoid heavy lifting and active sports for 1 to 2 weeks or until the pain and swelling are gone.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Minor muscle strain and overuse should start to get better in a couple days.
    • The pain should go away within one week.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain
    • Pain keeps you from doing normal activities (such as school, work)
    • Pain lasts more than 7 days
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Over-The-Counter Pain Medicines

  1. Pain Medicine:
    • You can take one of the following drugs if you have pain: acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve).
    • They are over-the-counter (OTC) pain drugs. You can buy them at the drugstore.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your pain feel better.
    • Acetaminophen is safer than ibuprofen or naproxen in people over 65 years old.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have more questions
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/22/2017 1:26:03 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:08 PM

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