Home > Health Library > Hip Problems, Age 12 and Older
Hip pain can make it hard to walk, go up and down stairs, squat,
or sleep on the side that hurts. A clicking or snapping feeling or sound around
your hip joint (snapping hip) may bother you or cause you to worry.
But if your hip is not painful, in many cases the click or snap is nothing to
worry about. Home treatment may be all that is needed for minor hip
To better understand hip problems, it may be helpful to
know how the
hip works. It is the largest ball-and-socket joint in
the body. The thighbone (femur) fits tightly into a cup-shaped socket
(acetabulum) in the pelvis. The hip joint is tighter and more stable than the
shoulder joint but it does not move as freely. The hip joint is held together
by muscles in the buttock, groin, and spine; tendons; ligaments; and a joint
capsule. Several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion and lubricate the hip joint
and let the tendons and muscles glide and move smoothly. The largest nerve in
the body (sciatic nerve) passes through the pelvis into the leg.
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). Oddly enough, a person who
has a hip problem often feels pain in the knee or thigh instead of the hip. The type of hip pain you have may help your
doctor determine the cause of your pain.
Pelvic, groin, thigh, or knee pain (referred pain) may be
present along with a sore, painful, or tender hip. Hip pain can have many
Treatment for a hip problem depends on the location,
type, and severity of the problem, as well as your age, general health, and
activities (such as work, sports, hobbies). Treatment may include first aid
measures; application of a brace, cast, harness, or traction; physical therapy;
medicines; or surgery.
Check your symptoms to
decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Symptoms of infection may
When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.
There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.
Pain in adults and older children
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Home treatment may help relieve hip
pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Do not smoke. Smoking may delay healing because it interferes
with blood supply and tissue healing. For more information, see the topic
If you have a cast, see
cast care tips.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent hip problems
up and stretch before exercising to prevent problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofMay 27, 2016
Current as of:
May 27, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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