Hip Pain

Hip pain is a common symptom that can be caused by anything from sports injuries to arthritis. You can usually treat hip pain at home by taking a break from physical activities and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. But if the pain persists or gets worse, other treatments may be necessary.


Anatomy of the hip joint and surrounding tissue
Hip pain can be caused by arthritis, injuries, bursitis and structural issues with your hip joint.

What is hip pain?

Hip pain is pain or discomfort you feel in or around your hip joint.

A joint is a place in your body where two bones meet. Your hip joint is where your thigh bone (femur) connects to your pelvis. Your hip joint is one of the largest joints in your body, and you use it constantly to move, support your weight and maintain your balance.

Hip pain can range from a temporary, short-term annoyance to a bigger issue that needs treatment from a healthcare provider. Where you feel the pain depends on which part of your hip joint is damaged. You might feel hip pain:

  • Close to the surface above or around your hip (usually an issue with your muscles, tendons or ligaments).
  • Deeper inside your hip joint (pain that comes from your bones or cartilage).
  • In your lower back. Hip pain can sometimes spread (radiate) to other areas like your lower back or groin.

The pain might come and go. For example, you might feel hip pain when you’re walking or moving, but it gets better when you rest. Some people also feel pain during different parts of the day. You could feel more pain first thing in the morning when you wake up. It’s also common to feel hip pain at night, especially if you sleep lying on the same side as your painful hip.

You can usually treat hip pain at home by taking a break from physical activities and by taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Visit a healthcare provider if you’re feeling hip pain that’s bad enough to affect your daily routine or that’s making it hard to move. See a provider if you’re feeling pain that lasts more than a few days without getting better.


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Possible Causes

What causes hip pain?

Hip pain is a symptom of several conditions, including arthritis, injuries to your hip (fractures, labral tears and dislocation), bursitis and structural issues. Athletes who move their hips in all directions, like dancers and gymnasts, are more likely to injure their hips and have hip pain.


Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in your joints. Hip arthritis is common. It causes symptoms like pain, swelling and stiffness. Several types of arthritis can lead to pain in your hips, including:


Bursitis is painful swelling in a small, fluid-filled sac called a bursa. Bursae (the plural of bursa) cushion spaces around bones and other tissue. Hip bursitis happens when the bursa in your hip becomes irritated and swells. The two most common types of hip bursitis are:


Any injury that damages the parts of your hip joint can cause pain. Hip injuries are usually caused by:

Some of the most common injuries that cause hip pain include:

Structural conditions

Some people are born with conditions that affect the shape of their hips, including:

Healthcare providers sometimes call these issues “structural abnormalities.” Depending on which condition you have, you might have hip pain as a child or later in life.

Care and Treatment

How is hip pain treated?

Which treatments you need for hip pain depends on what’s causing it. A healthcare provider will suggest treatments based on the pain’s severity and its cause.

RICE method for hip pain

You can usually treat hip pain at home with the RICE method:

  • Rest:Stop the physical activity that caused the pain to avoid making the injury worse.
  • Ice:Apply an ice pack or cold compress for 10 to 15 minutes every hour for the first day after your injury. After one day, you can apply ice every three to four hours. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin (wrap the ice pack in a towel or washcloth).
  • Compression:Compression helps reduce blood flow to your injured hip and reduces swelling. Apply a compression bandage or wrap around your hip. You can also wear compression shorts or pants to help keep pressure on your hip.
  • Elevation:If possible, lift your hips and lower body above the level of your heart. Support your leg with pillows, blankets or cushions.

Medications for hip pain

Your healthcare provider might suggest medications to relieve the hip pain and any other symptoms you’re experiencing.

Most people can take over-the-counter NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Don't take these medications for more than 10 days in a row without talking to your provider.

Physical therapy for hip pain

Your provider might suggest physical therapy if you have arthritis or a structural issue that’s causing pain. A physical therapist will show you stretches and exercises that strengthen the muscles around your affected hip. This should improve your stability and can relieve pain.

Hip surgery

Most people with hip pain won’t need surgery. But your provider may suggest it if the pain is severe and other treatments haven’t helped. You might need surgery to repair a hip fracture or structural issue.

Hip arthroscopy is the most common type of surgery to treat most causes of hip pain. Your surgeon will make a few small incisions (cuts) in the skin of your hip, and then insert a special tool called an arthroscope into your hip joint. The arthroscope includes a camera and a light that lets your surgeon identify and repair damage inside of your hip.

You might need a hip replacement (hip arthroplasty). Your surgeon will replace your hip with an artificial implant (a prosthesis). Your provider might recommend a hip replacement if pain and other symptoms in your hip affect your ability to stand, walk and move.

Your surgeon will tell you what to expect and how long it will take to recover.


How can I prevent hip pain?

You might not always be able to prevent hip pain, especially if it’s caused by an accident you can’t plan for or an issue with the natural shape of your hip joint.

During sports or other physical activities:

  • Wear the right protective equipment.
  • Don’t “play through the pain” if your hip hurts during or after physical activity.
  • Give your body time to rest and recover after intense activity.
  • Stretch and warm up before playing sports or working out.
  • Cool down and stretch after physical activity.

Follow these general safety tips to reduce your risk of an injury:

  • Make sure your home and workspace are free from clutter that could trip you or others.
  • Always use the proper tools or equipment at home to reach things. Never stand on chairs, tables or countertops.
  • Use a cane or walker if you have difficulty walking or have an increased risk of falls.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I see a healthcare provider if I have hip pain?

Visit a healthcare provider if you have hip pain all the time, or if the pain is intense enough that you skip your usual activities or change your daily routine.

Go to the emergency room or call 911 (or your local emergency services number) if you’ve experienced a trauma like a car accident or fall. Go to the ER if you can’t move your hip or leg or if you think you have a broken bone.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hip pain is a common symptom of many conditions. But just because hip pain happens often, it doesn’t mean you should live in pain. Visit a healthcare provider if your hip is hurting and at-home treatments haven’t worked, especially if it’s bad enough to make you skip activities you usually love. Your healthcare provider will diagnose what’s causing pain in your hip and suggest treatments that get you back on your feet pain-free as soon as possible.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/05/2023.

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