The hip is the largest ball-and-socket joint in the human body, responsible for movement between the legs and torso. Hip joints are more complicated than other joints throughout the human body, as they are required to support the weight of the body alongside accommodating a wide range of motion. Hip pain is extremely common – particularly in women – and can affect people of all ages.
Manual therapies on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves and bones such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping can generally help to ease hip pain.
Hip pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to walk
Did you know?
People who are severely overweight are up to three times more likely to need total hip replacement surgery as a result of osteoarthritis compared with people of a healthy weight
source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Hip pain can be provoked by a wide range of causes and is often a symptom of another underlying issue, rather than a specific complaint within itself. The hip joint is made up of the head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (hip socket), which allows the femur to swivel and provides it with a wide range of motion.
The head of the femur and acetabulum are lined with hyaline cartilage, which allows for movement between these two bones. There are also many ligaments surrounding the joint which keeps it in place and helps to prevent dislocation and fracture, as well as tendons which attach the surrounding muscles to the hips. The complex nature of the hip joint means that it is susceptible to injury via a number of different conditions, such as tendinitis and arthritis.
A rehabilitation schedule including manual therapies (on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves, bones) such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping can generally help hip pain.
Causes of hip pain
- Broken hip
- Hip fracture
- Hip dysplasia
- Toxic synovitis (Irritable hip syndrome)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Soft tissue pain
- Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)
Other conditions often mistaken for hip pain
Due to the central positioning of the hips within the human body, this can sometimes lead to confusion in regards to the source of pain, resulting in a misdiagnosis of hip pain. This includes both musculoskeletal issues as well as non-orthopaedic conditions located around the pelvic region.
Some conditions which are commonly mistaken for hip pain include:
- Thigh pain
- Back issues
- Ovarian cysts
- Buttock pain
- Other types of referred pain
- Groin pain
- Endometriosis and other gynecological issues
Top tips for hip care
- get regular exercise – particularly aerobic exercise
- maintain a healthy weight so as to avoid placing extra pressure on the hips
- avoid activities and exercises which cause hip pain
- wear good shoes, especially when running
- always stretch prior to exercising
- ensure that you maintain a good posture throughout the day
- focus on building a strong core and muscles, to support and protect your joints
Effective treatment of hip pain
There are a variety of anti-inflammatory medications that can help with providing immediate pain relief. Depending on the cause of your hip pain (ie. arthritis, SCFE etc.), there may be particular treatments which suit your condition best.
For sufferers of long-term hip pain, a mechanics assessment and an understanding about how you utilise your body in your chosen sport or repetitive activity will help a professional to provide a customised and comprehensive rehabilitation schedule suited to you. This may include the usage of manual therapy (on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves, bones) such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping.
This page has been produced, reviewed and approved by:
Dr Shermain Wong
BAppSc (Chiropractic), Masters (Clinical Chiropractic)
Dr Shermain Wong is a chiropractor at Jurmaine Health with expertise in general treatment and over 6 years experience.
With a Masters in Clinical Chiropractic from RMIT University, Shermain has provided chiropractic and movement rehabilitation services at international sporting competitions, professional dancers, professional football players and professional athletes.
At Jurmaine Health, she helps patients address and treat common musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions, including back pain, neck pain; shoulder pain; nerve pain, joint pain and many other conditions
She is a member of Sport Medicine Australia, College of Osteopathy and Chiropractic Association, Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine and International Society of Clinical Rehabilitation Specialists.
With her experience in Sports Medicine and treating Sports Injuries, she is a sought after expert for professional athletes and sports clubs. She has worked with the Coburg Lions VFL club, Melbourne Ice Hockey Women, World Ironman Championships, Australia CrossFit Regionals and others.
This document was last updated and reviewed in May 2016.