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What Can Cause Hip Damage?

December 7, 2016 | Orthopedics

Acid Reflux and Heartburn: Causes and Prevention

Because of the way we move around on a day-to-day basis, the bones and support structures in our bodies are designed to handle long term pressure. We have joints to connect major bones, muscles to move various parts of the body and other tissues to help stop our bodies from breaking down.

Nothing is perfect in the human body, however, and these areas are no exception. Joints and tissues can wear down over time, and there are plenty of pressures applied over the years which can speed up this process.

A good example here is hip pain. The hip joint is the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint, and as one of the central locations on the body that impacts things like balance and movement, it’s designed to stand up to the rigors of time and pressure. Unfortunately, complications can arise. Here are some of the common causes of hip damage, pain and discomfort.

How Does the Hip Work?

First, a basic knowledge of the hip’s functions will make it easier to understand conditions of the hip.

In the hip, the femur bone – located at the thigh and the largest bone in the leg – connects to a hip socket called the acetabulum. This is the ball-and-socket joint. Between the femur and the acetabulum is a layer of bone cartilage.

The purpose of this bone cartilage is to help cushion the interaction between the hip and the leg. Rather than bones rubbing up against each other, they’re able to flow more smoothly in an area where the body is frequently moving. However, over time, this cartilage or other parts of the hip can become damaged or worn down, and a number of issues can come up.

Hip Pain Symptoms

There are a few types of pain symptoms you might feel with hip damage. They are broken up into two general categories:

  1. Inside hip or groin pain: generally indicates an issue with the hip joint
  2. Outside hip, upper thigh or buttocks pain: usually a sign that soft tissues surrounding the hip have a problem, not the hip joint itself

There are rare cases, however, where hip pain is actually a symptom of a condition somewhere else in the body. This is known as “referred pain.”

Hip Pain Causes

Hip pain can be caused by several types of factors, from inherited to lifestyle. Here are the basic areas:


The primary cause of hip damage and discomfort is physical issues – some built up over time, some caused by more immediate accidents or injuries. These include:

  • Hip tendinitis (can be from overuse)
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocation or fracture
  • Labral tear
  • Hernia


Arthritis is any pain or stiffness in joints, and there are several types that can affect the hip. The severity can vary from case to case, as can the speed with which symptoms become more and more uncomfortable. Most of these forms of arthritis will require medical attention.


Certain types of bone cancer and leukemia, or other types of cancer which have spread to bones, can cause hip damage and often extreme pain.

Pinched Nerves:

Certain nerves in or around the hip can be pinched and cause pain, ranging from minor to extreme. See a doctor if it’s too much to bear, or if it happens regularly.


There are many situations where little can be done about hip damage or hip pain other than pain reduction and basic maintenance. Painkillers are often prescribed, and doctors will recommend staying off your feet whenever possible and using lots of ice or heat.

In many other situations, a physical injury to the hip requires immediate medical attention.  If you experience the inability to walk, extreme swelling or unbearable pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Dr. Carlson tends to be conservative with surgical treatment, and much of his training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy. He believes everyone deserves a trial of a more conservative treatment before moving to more invasive treatments such as surgery. Dr. Carlson tries to spend time with patients to better understand their goals and work together to come up with a treatment plan based on those goals and their distinct medical history.



  1. “Hip pain.” The Mayo Clinic.
  2. “Hip Pain: Causes and Treatment.” WebMD.



Michael Carlson, MD

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.