Leading Causes of Hip Pain

Hip pain takes many forms and arises from several different conditions. You can even end up with hip pain due to a problem in your back.

Andrew B. Richardson, MD, has extensive experience getting to the source of your hip pain and creating customized treatment that gets you back into action. If you have any questions about hip pain, call one of our offices in Honolulu, Waipahu, or Kahului, Hawaii. In the meantime, read on to learn about the leading causes of hip pain.

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of hip pain

In middle-aged adults and seniors, osteoarthritis is the most common cause of hip pain. Osteoarthritis develops over years of movement that gradually breaks down cartilage. The job of cartilage is to cushion your bones and allow for smooth movement inside the joint.

As cartilage wears away, bones grate against one another, causing the classic arthritis symptoms of pain, stiffness, and limited movement. You may also have pain in your groin or buttocks.

In the early stages of hip osteoarthritis, treatments such as physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications relieve your pain and help maintain mobility. As your hip osteoarthritis becomes more advanced, it causes:

Any of these challenges signal that it’s time to consider a hip replacement. Joint replacement is your only treatment option once osteoarthritis becomes severe.

Other causes of hip pain

You can experience hip pain from problems that develop inside the joint, outside the immediate joint, and from conditions that arise beyond the hip, such as lower back problems. Of all the possible hip problems, however, these are the most common:


Bursitis is a common cause of hip pain, with trochanteric bursitis affecting 15% of women and 8% of men. Small, fluid-filled structures called bursa prevent friction between your bones and soft tissues such as your skin. When bursa become inflamed, you have bursitis. Hip bursitis is often caused by repetitive stress, but it also occurs due to hip injuries, bone spurs, and spine problems.

Femoroacetabular impingement

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is diagnosed in 10%-15% of adults; if you’re engaged in sports, your risk is higher: it’s estimated that 55% of all athletes develop FAI. When you have FAI, bone spurs develop along one or both bones in your hip joint. The spur alters the shape of the bone, causing it to rub against the other bone every time you move.

Hip strain

When you stretch a hip muscle beyond its normal limit, you end up with a strained muscle. While anyone can strain a hip muscle over the course of their daily activities, it typically occurs due to overuse. You may also develop the problem if you fail to warm up properly before exercising or suddenly increase the intensity or frequency of your exercise.

Labral tears

The labrum is a ring of cartilage that goes around the outer rim of your hip socket. It supports the joint by deepening the socket. Labral tears are caused by injuries, repetitive stress, structural problems in the joint, and degenerative conditions such as arthritis.


Hip tendonitis usually affects the tendons that connect the iliopsoas muscle to bones. The iliopsoas muscle flexes your hip. When it’s overused, the tendon becomes inflamed, a condition called tendonitis. You have a higher risk for tendonitis if you participate in activities such as swimming, running, or bicycling.


Synovitis occurs when the tissues lining the joint, called the synovium, become inflamed. This condition is often an overuse injury that develops in athletes or people who repeatedly lift or squat. However, synovitis is also the primary symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.

No matter what causes your hip pain, it will get progressively worse if you continue to use your hip and don’t get adequate treatment. We’re here to answer your questions, determine the cause of your hip pain, and provide comprehensive care.

To get relief from hip pain, call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, or schedule an appointment online.

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