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Hip Pain



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Adult hip pain is normally caused by osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis in the UK. The symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary greatly from person to person, but if it affects the hip, it will typically cause:

  • mild inflammation of the tissues in and around the hip joint

  • damage to cartilage – the strong, flexible tissue that lines the bones

  • bony growths (osteophytes) that develop around the edge of the hip joint


This can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty doing certain activities. There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but the symptoms can be eased using a number of different physiotherapy treatments. Surgery isn't usually necessary although the majority of hip surgery in the UK is due to osteoarthritis. 


Less commonly, hip pain may be caused by:

  • the bones of the hip rubbing together because they're abnormally shaped – a condition called femoroacetabular impingement

  • a tear in the ring of cartilage surrounding the socket of the hip joint – known as a hip labral tear

  • hip dysplasia – where the hip joint is the wrong shape, or the hip socket isn't in the correct position to completely cover and support the top of the leg bone

  • a hip fracture – this will cause sudden hip pain and is more common in older people with weaker bones 

  • an infection in the bone or joint, such as septic arthritis or osteomyelitis – see your GP immediately if you have hip pain and fever

  • reduced blood flow to the hip joint, causing the bone to break down – a condition known as osteonecrosis

  • inflammation and swelling of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) over your hip joint – a condition called bursitis

  • a hamstring injury

  • an inflamed ligament in the thigh, often caused by too much running – known as iliotibial band syndrome, this is treated with rest; read more about sprains and strains


Irritable hip is a common childhood condition that causes symptoms such as hip pain and limping. Doctors sometimes refer to irritable hip as transient or toxic synovitis and hip pain isn't usually severe, but your child may be reluctant to place weight on the affected leg. Occasionally, an irritable hip may also cause:

  • pain in the knee or thigh

  • restricted movement in one of the hip joints

  • a slightly higher temperature than normal – a normal temperature is around 37C (98.6F)


In younger children who are unable to speak, the only noticeable symptom may be crying at night.


However, don't try to diagnose the cause of your hip pain yourself – this should always be a matter for your health professional. Our Chartered Physiotherapists can help diagnose your symptoms and have you back on the road to recovery in no time 

Hip Pain Explained

What to do About Hip Pain 

Hip pain often gets better on its own, and can be managed with rest and over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. 

However, you should seek further help if:

  • your hip is still painful after one week of resting it at home

  • you also have a fever or rash

  • your hip pain came on suddenly and you have sickle cell anaemia

  • the pain is in both hips and other joints as well


Although irritable hip is usually a mild condition, you should take your child to see your GP if you are concerned about their hips, so that a diagnosis can be confirmed. This is because irritable hip shares symptoms of more serious hip conditions, such as septic arthritis (an infection inside the hip) or Perthes disease.


If you are unsure or concerned about your hip pain then contact one of our Physiotherapists who can help diagnose your condition and put together a recovery plan with a specific exercise regime and personalised advice.​