Joint pain in the hip may occur due to one of several different underlying causes, such as bursitis, arthritis, or tears in the cartilage. A person may be able to treat some cases at home, but severe cases may require additional medical intervention.

The hip is a stable ball and socket joint that allows a person to walk, jump, run, and generally move. A ball and socket joint means that a rounded bone — in this case, the femur — inserts into a rounded socket or opening. It allows for a large range of motion.

Several muscles, tendons, and bones make up the hip joint.

While issues with any of the component parts can cause pain, this article focuses on the underlying causes that affect the bones in the hip, some associated symptoms, management, and more.

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Hip joint pain may not occur directly in the hips. It may transfer to areas of the groin, legs, or pelvic region in general. It may also cause symptoms such as:

  • difficulty sleeping on the affected side
  • tenderness
  • issues with movement
  • snapping or clicking noise in the hip
  • pain in the buttocks, thigh, outer hip, or groin

The bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs found in the joints throughout the body, including the hips. They aid in providing smooth movement to the joints and additional cushioning to the joints.

Injury or wear and tear can cause the bursae to become inflamed and painful. In some cases, doctors may not find a direct cause. This is known as bursitis.

The primary symptom is pain. The pain may:

  • worsen with movement
  • affect the outer part of the hip
  • spread into the thigh
  • be sharp at first and turn into a dull ache

In addition, it may cause some swelling in the leg.


Treatments may include one or more of the following:

Hip fractures are one of the most common injuries seen in the emergency room. They occur most frequently in older adults following a fall. However, anyone could sustain the injury due to an accident or contact sports injury, for example.

Symptoms can include:


Treatment for a fractured hip typically requires surgery within 1–2 days of injury. This lessens the risk of complications.

Doctors may recommend NSAIDs, other pain medications, and physical therapy during recovery after surgery.

A hip labral tear affects the cartilage that surrounds the hip socket. The cartilage helps to cushion the hip from impact and helps to protect the joint.

In some cases, hip labral tears may not cause any symptoms, and the injury may go unnoticed for years.

When injured, a person may experience pain:

  • in the front of the hip, groin, or side of the hip
  • during movement or when putting weight on the hip
  • at night

They may also experience a catching sensation or clicking sound when moving.


Treatment can involve a variety of approaches. They can include:

  • rest
  • NSAIDs
  • physical therapy
  • surgery

Several types of arthritis exist, including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in the affected and commonly affects the hips.

Some symptoms associated with osteoarthritis include:

  • pain
  • limited range of motion
  • stiffness

A person may also notice the symptoms increase with movement. As the disease progresses, a person may experience pain when not moving and increased pain during usual activities.


Treatment goals tend to focus on relieving pain and discomfort.

A doctor may recommend:

Typically, a surgeon replaces old pieces of bone with new bone. This is called remodeling. Paget’s disease of bone is a condition in which the new bone becomes atypically shaped, brittle, and weak.

It often affects people over 55 years old and is present in approximately 2–3% of the population.

Many people do not experience symptoms. However, if they do, pain is the most commonly reported.


Treatment is not necessary if symptoms are not present. However, if pain does occur, a doctor may recommend the following:

  • NSAIDs
  • assistive devices, such as a cane
  • bisphosphonate medications

A person may require surgery to treat complications of Paget’s disease of bone, including:

This is a condition in which the ball and socket joint of the hip do not fit together properly. This occurs when extra bone grows along the bones that form the hip joint.

When the bones rub against each other, this can cause joint pain in the hip. Other symptoms include:

  • stiffness
  • limping
  • pain in the groin area

A sharp stabbing pain can occur when someone turns, twists, or squats. A person may also experience a dull ache.


Treatment can include:

  • changes in activities to avoid causing symptoms
  • NSAIDs
  • physical therapy
  • surgery if nonsurgical methods are not effective

Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, is a condition where blood no longer reaches the bones.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, although it can occur in any bone in the body, it most commonly affects the hip joint.

It often affects the end of longer bones, such as the tip of the femur that sits in the socket joint of the hip.

At first, a person may not experience any pain. However, as the condition progresses, the pain will worsen. A person will usually notice pain in the groin.

Typically, a person will only notice the pain when they put weight on their hip. Eventually, the pain can be present even when resting. The joint can also stiffen and have a reduced range of motion.

If the bone collapses suddenly, it can cause intense, immediate pain.


Treatment can vary based on a person’s age and overall health. Some approaches a doctor may take include:

  • physical therapy
  • use of assistive devices
  • NSAIDs
  • corticosteroids
  • surgery to replace the joint or prevent deterioration

Most people will eventually need surgery.

Several factors can cause hip joint pain at night, such as:

  • bursitis
  • exercise-related discomfort
  • osteoarthritis
  • having obesity or being overweight
  • injury or accident
  • tendinopathy
  • greater trochanteric pain syndrome, also known as

Learn more about hip pain at night.

Pregnancy can lead to hip pain for some people. Causes can include:

  • changes in posture
  • weight gain
  • release of relaxin hormone

Learn more about hip pain during pregnancy.

A person may be able to manage their pain at home, particularly for minor causes of pain.

To manage pain at home, a person may find the following help:

  • rest
  • cold or hot therapy
  • OTC pain medication, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs
  • strength and stretch exercises
  • taking measures to lighten the hip’s load
  • improving posture alignment

People can often manage their symptoms at home with OTC pain medications and rest. A person should visit a doctor if their symptoms persist for 2 weeks or worsen over time.

They should seek emergency care if they experience an acute injury to the hip.

Several different conditions may cause pain in the hip joints. A doctor will need to determine the underlying cause through various tests. These may include:

  • ordering X-rays or other imaging of the hips
  • testing for areas of tenderness
  • checking range of motion
  • asking about pain symptoms, including when it happens, severity, and location
  • ordering blood tests to help rule out conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis

Several conditions can cause joint pain in the hip, including:

  • bursitis
  • hip fractures
  • labral tears
  • arthritis
  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • femoroacetabular impingement
  • avascular necrosis

Depending on the cause, a person may be able to manage their symptoms at home with OTC medications, hot or cold therapy, and rest.

If the pain worsens or does not improve, a person should contact a doctor.