Hip pain is common. Many cases of outer hip pain can be treated at home, but some cases need a doctor’s care.

Let’s take a look at the common causes of outer hip pain, your treatment options, and when you need to get immediate care.

Pain on the inside of your hip or groin area is often a result of problems with the hip joint itself.

But hip pain on the outer part of your hip is typically caused by problems with the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) that surround your hip joint, not in the joint itself.

A number of conditions can cause outer hip pain. These include bursitis and tendonitis.

Bursas are small fluid-filled sacs that act as friction-reducing cushions between soft tissues and bones. Sometimes they can become inflamed.

Trochanteric bursitis occurs when the bursa that covers the bony point of the hip bone (greater trochanter) becomes inflamed. This condition causes pain at the point of the hip. Pain typically also reaches the outer thigh.

Initial treatment typically includes:

  • prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • corticosteroid injection
  • physical therapy
  • use of assistive devices, such as crutches or a cane

Surgery is an option for trochanteric bursitis, but it’s rarely needed.

Sometimes the cords (tendons) that connect your muscles to your bones become inflamed and irritated. This is known as tendonitis.

Tendonitis that affects the outer hip is usually the result of a gluteus medius tear. The gluteus medius muscle surrounds the hip from the buttocks to the bony point of the hip bone. This muscle lifts your leg to the side.

Long-term wear and tear, an injury, or both can result in gluteus medius tears or tendonitis. This causes weakness and pain to the outside of the hip. It’s typically treated with:

  • RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • prescription or OTC NSAIDs
  • physical therapy to stretch the iliotibial (IT) band that runs from the hip to the knee and strengthen gluteal muscles
  • cortisone injections
  • surgery

If you’ve self-treated your outer hip pain with OTC pain medication, rest, and ice, make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • Your pain hasn’t subsided in a week.
  • Your pain is in both hips.
  • You have a fever or rash.

There are outer hip pain circumstances that indicate you should seek medical help right away. This includes the following:

  • Your pain is intense.
  • You can’t move your leg or hip.
  • You can’t put weight on your hip.
  • Your hip pain was triggered by an accident, injury, or fall.
  • Your hip looks deformed.

Hip pain is common. A variety of physical conditions can trigger it. If the pain is on the outside of your hip, it’s likely not a joint issue, but a problem with the soft tissue around the joint instead. Examples include bursitis or tendonitis.

If you find yourself with manageable outer hip pain, there are steps you can take at home to get relief, including OTC pain medication and the RICE method.

If the pain intensifies or lasts for more than a week, see your doctor. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start the treatment that’s right for you.