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Identifying Hip Pain

Hip pain is any kind of pain that happens in or around the hip joint. This pain can be dull, sharp, or cause a burning sensation ranging from mild to severe.

Ultimately, hip pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including a fracture or joint infection, as well as less serious instances, such as bursitis. 

In this article, we'll look at the difference between hip pain and back pain, some of the most common types of hip pain, and when you should go see a doctor.

Hip vs. Back Pain

The precise location of your hip pain can reveal important information about the underlying cause. 

Because the hip joint is so close to the spine, back pain is frequently misdiagnosed as hip pain. 

Back and hip pain can also vary in severity. Some people might experience slow, constant pain, while others say they feel sharp, intense pain. 

Pain from other parts of the body, such as the back or groin (due to a hernia), can sometimes also radiate to the hip. 

If you have hip-pain, you may experience pain in the following locations: 

  • In the groin
  • In the buttocks
  • Inside of the hip joint 
  • Outside of the hip joint 

These symptoms can lead to:

  • Walking with a stutter
  • Intense pain when standing or walking
  • Pain that comes and goes or pain that becomes more frequent with time

Because hip pain can start in places other than the hip, a thorough examination can help you locate the source of the pain. 

If you're suffering from hip pain, contact our Idaho Falls providers to help you determine the cause of your pain and plan your treatment.

Types of Hip Pain

Hip pain can be caused by a number of causes, such as arthritis, injuries, or issues with your hip socket. 

Although many people think of hip pain as something more commonly experienced by those who are older, hip pain can affect people of all ages. 

Let’s look at the different types of hip pain in more detail:


The most common cause of acute hip discomfort is tendonitis, or swollen tendons. 

Tendonitis develops when a tendon expands (inflames) as a result of a tendon injury, causing joint discomfort and stiffness that affect tendon movement. 

Excessive exercise is frequently to blame. This kind of pain can be incredibly uncomfortable, but it normally goes away within a few days. 


Bursitis is the inflammation of the pillow-like fluid sacs called bursae. 

The bursae are small, jelly-like sacs that cushion the joints of the body. They serve as cushions between the hip bone and soft tissues in the hip. 

Hip bursitis is caused by an irritated bursa in the hip, sometimes producing hip pain that radiates to the outside of the thigh, which can worsen with physical exercise or appear while resting or sleeping.

Bursitis discomfort can be relieved with joint injections and physical therapy. If you suspect that you might have buritis, the first step is to consult with a doctor. Once the cause of your pain is found, a treatment plan can be made to help you recover.


Some hip pain is caused by osteoarthritis, especially in older adults. 

People who have arthritis experience stiffness and a reduction in hip range of motion. 

In inflammatory arthritis, the body's immune system destroys healthy tissue, which can affect multiple parts of the body at once.

When you have hip arthritis, your hip joint usually becomes swollen, and the cartilage that cushions your hip bones breaks down. Inflammation of the tissues that cover the hip joint, for example, can cause pain and stiffness.

Pain in the groin, outer thigh, knee, or buttocks can also be a sign of inflammatory arthritis. The pain often worsens over time. 

Some people feel more pain in the morning or after rest, while others feel more pain after strenuous exercise. Some people may also find it difficult to walk because of the pain. 

Even though physiotherapy is a good way to treat mild to moderate arthritis symptoms, in some cases, a total hip replacement may be necessary to alleviate symptoms.


Bones, like any other organ, require blood flow, and when circulation around the hip bone is limited or halted, bone tissue dies. 

Osteonecrosis (also known as avascular necrosis) happens when blood does not reach the bones for an extended period of time. The underlying bone may be lost as a result.

Although this can happen in any joint, it is most common in the hips and is frequently caused by a hip injury or dislocation, as well as long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone).

Musculoskeletal strain

A strained hip occurs when one of the muscles that support the hip joint is stretched beyond its limit. This can happen because the muscle is tight, due to a sudden injury, or from overuse.

Muscle strain causes pain, soreness, swelling, weakness, a limited range of motion, and pain when the hip moves.

Hip fractures

Hip fractures can be caused by a fall, other forms of trauma, osteoporosis, or another ailment. Most people with hip fractures can’t stand or walk.

Hip fractures are frequently surgically treated. If left untreated, they can be fatal. So it’s important to consult a doctor if you suspect you have fractured your hip.

When to Consult a Doctor

If your hip pain is making it difficult for you to walk or move, you should see your doctor immediately. Persistent hip pain could indicate arthritis or a serious injury, so it’s important to always pay attention to your body and get help if your pain gets worse.

At Rocky Mountain Spine & Sport, a typical consultation includes a physical exam, a look at your medical history, and imaging tests. 

When you come to see us, we'll get all the information we need to figure out what's causing your hip pain. We'll then recommend the best treatments to help you feel better and get back to your normal life.

Contact us or call us today for a thorough consultation.