Real Life Performance

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Cartilage tears. Over time, damage to cartilage can allow the bones in the joint to rub against each other. Cartilage injuries are a common source of hip pain.

Joint degeneration is a painful condition that develops when the cartilage cushioning the joint deteriorates allowing bone to rub on bone. This is a degenerative condition, which means it often gets worse over time.

Problems associated with joint degradation include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to the joint cartilage (cartilage is the tissue on the ends of bones that enables the bones to move against each other without rubbing bone on bone). This damaged cartilage can lead to joint weakness, instabilities and deformities which you might find can interfere with basic daily tasks such as walking, driving, dressing and preparing food.

Pain and levels of discomfort can vary from mild to moderate to severe. 

There are several forms of joint degradation: 

The ‘wear and tear’ effect causes a breakdown in the tissues in the joints. This is increasingly likely with age, most often occurring after the age of 45 years. It frequently results in pain, stiffness and reduced movement in the weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. 

There is no single cause for this type of joint degeneration. Risk factors include:

  • being overweight (more pressure on weight-bearing joints)
  • advancing age
  • hereditary factors joint
  • injuries and other metabolic or inflammatory disorders.

An autoimmune systemic disease can attack any and all joints in the body resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced joint movement. 

Joint degradation can develop after a joint is injured and the bone and cartilage do not heal properly. The resulting irregularities lead to excessive wear on parts of the joint.

Bone fracture. The pelvis or the femur can be broken or fractured, most often from a fall. An orthopaedic surgeon can discuss options for hip repair.

Hip necrosis. This is when the blood supply to the hip is insufficient, resulting in bone tissue dying and sometimes the joint collapses.

When to Talk to Your GP

If you don’t know what is causing your pain, or if you don’t know what treatment is right for your condition, talk to your GP. Signs that you should talk to your GP include:

  • Difficulty walking comfortably on the affected side
  • Injury that causes deformity around the joint
  • Hip pain that happens at night or while resting
  • Hip pain that persists for more than a few days
  • Inability to bend at the hip
  • Swelling of the hip area
  • Signs of infection, including fever, redness and warmth in the hip area
  • Any other unusual symptoms