Hip Problems: 12 and Older

Topic Overview

Problems within the hip joint tend to cause pain on the inside of your hip or groin. Hip problems can also cause a clicking or snapping feeling in the hip joint, difficulty walking, squatting or sleeping on the side that hurts. If you or your child experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.

Hip problems may develop from overuse, bone changes with age, tumors, infection, changes in the blood supply, or a problem that was present from birth (congenital). Understanding hip problems and conditions will help in deciding what treatment options are best and ensure a safe recovery.

Hip problems that affect those who are 12 and older can include:

  • Snapping pain on the outside of the hip and the knee is often caused by iliotibial band syndrome.
  • Pain in the hip, thigh, or knee of an older child or teen may be conditions such as slipped capital femoral epiphysis, in which the upper end of the thighbone (femur) slips at the growth plate (epiphysis), or Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
  • Pain that improves throughout the day may be caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.
  • Pain with weight-bearing that gradually worsens over time may be caused by transient osteoporosis. This is more common in middle-aged men but also can affect women in the later part of pregnancy (third trimester). Osteoporosis related to pregnancy usually goes away on its own within 12 months of delivery.
  • Pain in the hip may also be a sign of inflammation of the large sac that separates the hip bones from the muscles and tendons of the thighs and buttocks (trochanteric bursitis).
  • Pain can occur with signs of infection in a joint (septic arthritis), bursa (septic bursitis), or bone (osteomyelitis).
  • Pain and stiffening in the hip may be caused by lack of blood flow to the hip joint (avascular necrosis).
  • Pain that shoots down the leg from the hip or lower back may be caused by an irritated or pinched nerve (sciatica).
  • Some types of bone cancer (osteosarcomas) and the spread of cancer to the bone (metastatic disease) can cause bone pain.

Treatment of a hip problem depends on the location, type and severity of the problem as well as your age, general health, and activity level.

Symptoms

Those with a hip problem may feel pain when resting and pain with movement or weight-bearing. Pelvic, groin, thigh or knee pain are also signs of a possible hip problem.

Other symptoms of hip problems may include:

  • Hip pain or tenderness
  • Inability to bend, straighten or move a leg
  • Inflammation or signs of infection around the hip
  • Snap, pop or grating at the joint

It is important to seek medical help if you or your child is experiencing any of these symptoms.

Emergencies

Immediate medical assistance is crucial if you experience:

  • Sudden sharp pain and inability to stand or move their hip
  • Sudden numbness or tingling of the buttocks, genital area, or legs
  • White, pale, blue or cold hip or leg

Home Treatment

Home treatment is a great option to help reduce pain, swelling and stiffness caused by hip problems. Non-prescription medicine such as Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen or Aspirin can help treat fever or pain.

Gently stretching and icing the hip can help reduce pain and speed recovery. If the swelling is gone, heat from a warm towel or heating pad can be used on the area as well.

During treatment and recovery, you should watch for other signs and symptoms including:

  • Increased pain or swelling
  • Signs of infection
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness
  • Pale, cold skin

Prevention

Most hip problems are difficult to predict or prevent, but keeping your bones healthy and strong can reduce their risk for future problems. It is important to eat a nutrient-rich diet including Vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bone density. Calcium is found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt; dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli; and other foods. Avoid excessive amounts of soda, as caffeine is known to cause increased calcium loss.

It is essential to maintain an active lifestyle when preventing hip problems. Exercise and sports are great ways to stay active. It’s important to warm up and stretch before extended physical activity to prevent injury.

Preparing for your Appointment

When consulting a doctor about your hip problem, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms? How long have you had your symptoms?
  • Have you had this problem in the past? If so, do you know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated?
  • Do you have hip pain when you walk? How far can you walk without discomfort? Does the pain get better or worse as you continue to walk?
  • Have you had X-rays of your hip? When and what were the results?
  • What activities make your symptoms better or worse?
  • What sports activities are you involved in? Have you recently started a new activity?
  • Do you think that activities related to your job or hobbies caused your symptoms?
  • Have you had any recent illness or fever?
  • What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help?
  • What nonprescription medicines have you tried? Did they help?
  • What prescription and nonprescription medicines do you take?
  • Do you have any health risks that may increase the seriousness of your symptoms?

Related Topics

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
Hip Injuries, Age 11 and Younger
Groin Problems and Injuries
Hip Fracture

Other Helpful Sources

Web MD
Mayo Clinic