Hip pain is a common problem. When different activities like standing or walking make your pain worse, it can give you clues about the cause of the pain. Most causes of hip pain when you stand or walk aren’t serious, but some require medical attention.
Read on to find out more about potential causes and treatments of hip pain when you stand or walk.
Hip pain when you stand or walk often has different causes than other types of hip pain. Potential causes of this type of pain include:
Inflammatory arthritis causes dull aching pain and stiffness. Symptoms are usually worse in the morning and after vigorous activity, and can make walking difficult.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease. It happens when the cartilage between bones wears away, leaving the bone exposed. The rough bone surfaces rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. The hip is the second most commonly affected joint.
Age is one of the main causes of OA, since joint damage can accumulate over time. Other risk factors for OA include previous injuries to joints, obesity, poor posture, and a family history of OA.
OA is a chronic disease and can be present for months or even years before you have symptoms. It generally causes soreness in your:
The pain can “flare” and become severe. OA pain is worse with load-bearing activities like walking or when you first stand up after sitting for a long time. If left untreated, it can cause joint deformities.
Bursitis is when the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion your joints become inflamed. Symptoms include:
- dull, achy pain in the affected joint
Bursitis is more painful when you move or press on the affected joint.
Trochanteric bursitis is a common type of bursitis that affects the bony point at the edge of the hip, called the greater trochanter. It typically causes pain in the outer part of the hip, but would likely not cause groin or back pain.
Sciatica is compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, through your hip and buttocks, and down each leg. It’s usually caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or a bone spur.
Symptoms are usually just on one side of the body, and include:
- radiating pain along the sciatic nerve
- leg pain
Sciatica pain can range from a mild ache to a sharp pain. The pain often feels like a jolt of electricity on the affected side.
Hip labral tear
A hip labral tear is an injury to the labrum, which is the soft tissue that covers the hip socket and helps your hip move. The tear can be caused by structural problems like femoroacetabular impingement, an injury, or OA.
Many hip labral tears don’t cause any symptoms. If they do cause symptoms, they may include:
- pain and stiffness in your hip that gets worse when you move the affected hip
- pain in your groin or buttocks
- clicking sound in your hip when you move
- feeling unsteady when you walk or stand
To diagnose the problem, a doctor will first take a medical history. They’ll ask about when your hip pain started, how bad it is, other symptoms you have, and if you’ve had any recent injuries.
They’ll then do a physical exam. During this exam, the doctor will test your range of motion, look at how you walk, see what makes your pain worse, and look for any inflammation or hip deformities.
Sometimes, the medical history and physical exam will be enough for a diagnosis. In other cases, you might need imaging tests such as:
If a doctor suspects you might have inflammatory arthritis, they’ll do a blood test to look for markers of this condition.
In some cases, you can treat hip pain at home. Home treatments may include:
- avoiding activities that make the pain worse (you can use crutches, a cane, or a walker)
- ice or heat
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If home remedies aren’t effective, you may need medical treatment. Options include:
- muscle relaxants
- physical therapy to strengthen your hip muscles and help restore range of motion
- steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
- antirheumatic drugs for inflammatory arthritis
If other treatments fail, surgery is an option. Types of surgery include:
- freeing a severely compressed sciatic nerve
- hip replacement for severe OA
- repairing a labral tear
- removing a small amount of damaged tissue around a labral tear
- replacing damaged tissue from a labral tear
Hip pain can often be treated at home with remedies like rest and NSAIDs. However, you should see a doctor for further evaluation and treatment if:
- your joint looks deformed
- you can’t put weight on your leg
- you can’t move your leg or hip
- you experience severe, sudden pain
- you have sudden swelling
- you notice signs of an infection, such as a fever
- you have pain in multiple joints
- you have pain that lasts for more than one week after home treatment
- you have pain caused by a fall or other injury
Some causes of hip pain, such as OA, may not be curable. However, you can take steps to reduce pain and other symptoms:
- Create a weight loss plan if you have overweight or obesity. This will help limit the amount of pressure on your hip.
- Avoid activities that make the pain worse.
- Wear flat, comfortable shoes that cushion your feet.
- Try low-impact exercises like biking or swimming.
- Always warm up before exercising, and stretch afterward.
- If appropriate, do muscle-strengthening and flexibility exercises at home. A doctor or physical therapist can give you exercises to try.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Take NSAIDs when necessary, but avoid taking them for a prolonged time.
- Rest when necessary, but remember that exercise will help keep your hip strong and flexible.
Hip pain that’s worse when you stand or walk can often be treated with home remedies. However, if your pain is serious or lasts more than a week, see a doctor. They can help you find the right treatment and make lifestyle changes to cope with chronic hip pain if necessary.