Hip pain

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How does the hip joint work?

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that helps you move your legs during everyday activities such as walking and going up and down stairs.

What causes hip pain?

Most hip pain has a very simple explanantion, such as a strain after exercise. It's usually felt in the hip, but it can sometimes be felt in the groin, front of the leg and the knee.

Should I see a doctor about my hip pain?

Most cases of hip pain will get better on their own or with simple self-help treatments. You should see your doctor if the pain is extremely bad or if it hasn’t improved with painkillers after two weeks.

How can I help myself when I have hip pain?

There are several ways that you can help yourself, including:
  • taking painkillers
  • getting a balance between rest and exercise
  • thinking about whether your day-to-day activities contribute to your hip pain and doing something to reduce the strain

How are hip problems diagnosed?

Your doctor will usually make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and an examination of your hip, although you may also need the following tests:
  • x-rays
  • computerised tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • blood tests

Specific hip conditions

Hip pain can be caused by a simple strain, but it can also be the result of a number of different conditions, including:
  • osteoarthritis of the hip joint, Paget’s disease and other types of arthritis
  • avascular necrosis
  • referred pain from the back
  • soft tissue conditions

What treatments are there for hip pain?

If hip pain doesn’t ease with self-help methods, the usual treatments include:
  • drugs
  • physiotherapy
  • steroid injections
  • surgery

Research and new developments for hip pain

Arthritis Research UK is currently funding research into the effect of genes on abnormalities in the shape of the hip joint.

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