1st July, 20203 min read

When to see a doctor about hip pain

Medical reviewer:
Healthily's medical team
Healthily's medical team
Tomas Duffin
Tomas Duffin
Last reviewed: 02/07/2020
Medically reviewed

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Hip pain is very common and often nothing to worry about, but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious.

Why does my hip hurt?

The most common cause of hip pain is arthritis, which is caused by bone and cartilage breaking down, making the hip joint swell up.

It can affect people of all ages, including children, and is 3 times more common in women than men, often affecting women during childbearing years.

But there are many causes of hip pain, with conditions such as tendonitis and bursitis also being quite common, as well as a hip fracture.

When should I see a doctor about hip pain?

If your hip pain was caused by a fall or accident, you should seek medical attention immediately.

You should also see a doctor if your leg is out of shape, bruised or bleeding badly, the pain is in both hips, or you’re unable to move your hip or bear any weight on your leg.

If you have a temperature, feel unwell, or have lost weight without trying to, or you have a previous history of cancer, you should get medical help.

Occasionally hip pain can be a sign of bone cancer (sarcoma), which can sometimes be mistaken for arthritis in adults and growing pains in children.

If the pain isn’t relieved by anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, persists for more than a week despite resting your leg, or if the pain stops you sleeping or wakes you at night, these are more reasons to speak to a doctor.

You should also see a doctor if you have hip pain and:

Girl wearing blue jumper holding a thermometer

Self-care for hip pain

If your hip pain causes you mild discomfort you may be able to manage it yourself at home.

Painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can help provide some immediate relief.

You should also be sure to avoid activities that can make the pain worse, such as long-distance running and standing for long periods of time.

You could instead try muscle-strengthening exercises -- such as working with resistance bands, push-ups, sit-ups and squats, or yoga -- to help strengthen your hip and relieve the pain. Wearing flat shoes, instead of heels, will also help.

If you’re overweight, weight loss can help to relieve strain on the joint and possible help you avoid future hip pain.

But remember, if your hip pain gets worse or is worrying you, see a doctor.

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