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Hip Pain

The problem

  • Hip pain can have a number of predisposing factors
  • Pain can arise from a variety of structures in the hip including: bone, ligament, capsule, muscle and cartilage
  • Knowing the nature of the pain (sharp on movement vs. dull ache at rest), onset of pain (acute injury or insidious onset) and the type of injury (twisting, falling etc) can help to determine which structures are the primary causes of the pain.
  • A common injury to the hip is a labral tear
  • A labral tear can occur from trauma, wear-and-tear, and/or degeneration of the cartilage as occurs in osteoarthritis
  • Pain can be referred to the hip from other structures such as the lower back, sacroiliac joint or pubic bone/symphysis

Interesting facts

  • Labral tears have become a more common finding in the last 10 years due to improved tests and treatment procedures
  • Repetition in sports such as soccer, gymnastics and ballet result in a high percentage of athletes with a labral injury
  • The hip is a ball and socket joint, surrounded by thick bands of tissue, which create a very stable and deep joint.

What you can expect/look out for

  • Pain with weight bearing
  • Tight and sore muscles which surround the hip including glutes, hip flexors, adductors and muscle in the groin
  • Locking/catching/clicking
  • Difficulty lying on the sore hip

Hints for self-management

  • Activity modification is initially important to reduce irritation to the hip joint
  • Anti-inflammatory medications may help to reduce swelling and pressure in the hip joint allowing more space for the ball to move in the socket and ultimately alleviating the pain experienced.
  • Slow onset of pain is more likely to indicate an overuse injury which causes inflammation or a degenerative-type of injury such as osteoarthritis
  • An acute injury will more likely indicate a tear/strain of muscles, ligaments or the labrum

Management options

  • Conservative management aims to strengthen the muscles that support the hip and loosen off tight structures, this decreases aggravating loading patterns
  • Surgery to correct labral tears and improve joint mechanics
  • Medication or injections to reduce inflammation
  • Rest to allow structures to heal

More information

  • The hip is made up of two bones: the femoral head or thighbone and the acetabulum or hip socket.
  • Other causes of hip pain can include bursa Inflammation (fluid filled sacks which provide lubrication between bones and ligaments)
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of hip pain in people over the age of 50


At Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy our highly qualified physiotherapists specialise in the assessment, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal injuries.

Contact us today – 9252 5770


This handout was prepared by Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy and is intended as a general information service. Please note that the information provided is not intended as a substitute for advice from a registered physician or healthcare professional. If symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.

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