Skip to main content

Hip pain

Many of us will experience hip pain at some point in our lives. Although it can be painful, it is rarely serious. For many people hip pain will normally resolve in 6-12 weeks without any treatment.

Common causes

A number of factors have been associated with hip pain. These include:

  • A sprain/strain or injury such as a fall or blow to the thigh.
  • A sudden increase or decrease in your normal activity or exercise levels.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.
  • Following a period of increased stress, worry or low mood.
  • Following a period of poor sleep, fatigue or feeling run down.
  • Other lifestyle factors such as being overweight and smoking.
  • A flare up of longstanding hip pain.


Common symptoms

These include:

  • Pain around the buttock, outside of the hip and or groin.
  • Pain down the leg, but this is often associated with back pain.
  • Stiffness generally first thing in the morning or after a period of rest.
  • Pain when standing and walking.
  • Pain in sitting and lying positions.
  • Difficulty doing your normal daily activities e.g., putting on socks and shoes, or getting in and out of a car.

You may experience constant or intermittent (comes and goes) symptoms that are aggravated by certain activities and reduced by others.


What can I do to help it?

  • In the first few days after an onset of hip pain, changing or reducing your usual activities may help. However, there is strong evidence that keeping active and gradually returning to all your usual activities and exercise will help you recover.
  • It is normal to experience some pain during your recovery, but it does not mean you are damaging your hip.
  • Try to stay at work or return as soon as you are able. Your employer, GP or health practitioner will be able to advise on how to return to your normal work duties.

Try some of these self-help strategies to aid your recovery:

  • Apply a heat or icepack to the painful area – for up to 15 minutes. Never apply heat or ice directly to the skin.
  • A short course of simple pain medication as advised by your pharmacist or GP may help reduce pain and allow you to move more comfortably.
  • Keep moving. Regular movement and exercise is safe and helpful for hip pain. It is important to build up gradually – the exercise or activity you enjoy most, is likely to help your recovery.
  • Try and get a good night’s sleep e.g., place a pillow between your knees, and rest your leg on the pillow when lying on your non-painful side.
  • Good sleep habits and managing stress may help you cope better with your pain.


Facts about hip pain

  • The hip is a very strong and stable joint.
  • Hip pain is common without any damage to your joints, ligaments, or tendons.
  • X-rays and scans often DO NOT show the cause of your pain.
  • Movement and exercise is NOT harmful for hip joints.
  • Your hip can become stronger and healthier with regular movement and exercise – that are built up gradually.
  • Creaking and clicking hip joints are common in people without hip pain. It is a RARELY a sign of harm or damage.
  • If you are overweight - losing weight by getting more active and improving your diet can improve your hip pain by reducing inflammation in your body and the load on your hip joint.
  • Improving your sleep and general health is all also important for your hip pain.

When should I seek medical advice?

Call your GP surgery if

  • Your pain is getting worse.
  • You have tried the self-help tips for 3-4 weeks and the symptoms have not improved.

Seek immediate medical advice if

  • After an injury e.g., a fall or a direct blow to the hip
    • you’ve difficulty standing or walking.
    • if you are unable to move your hip.
    • If your hip is giving way.


Do I need an X-Ray or scan?

  • X-rays or scans or are NOT usually required to diagnose hip pain.
  • X-rays or scans DO NOT tell us how much pain you are experiencing.
  • X-rays and scans often show joint narrowing, osteoarthritis and labral tears which are common in people WITHOUT hip pain. These findings are unlikely to change the way you manage your pain.
  • X-rays and scans are best used where a serious injury (e.g., a broken bone) or conditions such as cancer or infection are suspected.


Do I need a fit note?


Useful websites and resources

What should you know about joint health? What Should You Know About Joint Health? - Body Logic - Treating Arthritis


Accessing information and support to make healthy lifestyle choices

Local support:

Online support: