Authored by Revere Health

Hip Pain and Sports

January 12, 2017 | Orthopedics

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Sports are great for everything from exercise to entertainment, but they can also come with physical consequences for many athletes. Even some of the strongest areas of the body can be injured or damaged while playing sports, and even some of the greatest athletes in the world get exposed to these injuries if they’re not properly prepared.

One of these areas is the hip, which is generally one of the strongest and most stable parts of the body – but can still be at risk while playing sports. The hip is what’s called a “ball-and-socket” joint: the bone has a wide range of movement that’s cushioned by cartilage every time it moves.

Over time, problems can develop, especially for athletes putting a lot of strain on the hip joint. What are some of the causes of these problems, and how can you help prevent and treat them?

Causes of Hip Pain in Athletes

A number of different conditions can cause hip pain in athletes, including:

  1. Arthritis or osteoarthritis (also known as “wear and tear” arthritis)
  2. Muscle strains in the thighs, lower back or groin (all muscles which affect hip functions)
  3. IT band syndrome (tightness in ligaments)
  4. Hip pointer (bruise or contusion)
  5. Bone fractures or breaks
  6. Bursitis (inflammation of joint cushions)
  7. Cartilage or ligament tears
  8. Tendinitis

A specific injury or accident can cause many of these conditions. Some hip pain, though, is the result of constant movements that wear down the joints over time.

Symptoms of Hip Pain

Like in many areas of the body, it’s common for hip pain to cause problems elsewhere – as you naturally try to compensate for the pain in one area, it puts too much strain on another area. At other times, it’s possible for pain in other areas to also affect the hip.

The main areas where you may feel specific pain with hip problems are:

  • Hip joint, both inside and outside
  • Thighs
  • Groin
  • Buttocks

Hip Pain Treatment

Many cases of him pain can be treated at home and monitored under a doctor’s care. Some cases, though, are serious enough to require significant medical attention.

At home:

The main goal when treating hip pain is limiting swelling and other painful symptoms – and at the same time, helping prevent the larger issues these can cause. Some good methods include:

  • Ice: For 15-to-20-minute intervals, wrapped in a towel (never apply it directly to skin). This helps reduce inflammation and soothe the joints.
  • Pain medication: Basic Tylenol or another over-the-counter pain medication is often enough to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis treatments: Usually require prescriptions. Include corticosteroids and antirheumatic drugs.
  • Equipment: Shoes, padding and any other sporting equipment should be up to date, and should be replaced if they aren’t.
  • Stretching and low-impact cardio: Helps keeps joints healthy and agile.
  • Physical therapy: Helps increase motion
  • Nutrition: High in vitamin D and calcium
  • Posture and mechanics: Eliminating harmful movements you may make hundreds of times in a given sporting event can go a long way

Other options:

For certain cases of hip pain, including arthritis or injuries like fractures or muscle tears, further medical assistance might be necessary. Surgery, often for a hip replacement, is one option.
If you’re experiencing severe pain that negatively impacts your quality of life, or if at-home treatments don’t bring relief, consult with your doctor. He or she will work with you to create a treatment plan that works best for you.

About the Author

Michael Carlson, MD

Orthopedics is rewarding for me because it allows me to help patients with injuries and get them back into action quickly. I love meeting people of all ages in my practice—I see kids, athletes, adults and retirees. I enjoy being able to understand people’s unique situations and trying to help them recover. I tend to be conservative with my surgical treatment, and much of my training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy.


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.