There are many possible causes for pain above the left hip. In some cases, the pain may be caused by a condition or injury affecting an entirely different part of your body.

These causes range from mild injuries that heal quickly with rest to aggressive illnesses that require immediate medical treatment.

To determine the source of the pain above your left hip, it’s usually necessary to take a look at your other symptoms. Doing so can make it easier to know if you should see a doctor.

Here are the possible causes, their symptoms, how they’re diagnosed, and your treatment options.


Less serious causes
Serious causesFemale-only causesMale-only causes
ArthritisBone cancerEctopic pregnancyProstate cancer
BursitisHerniaEndometriosis
Celiac diseaseIliopsoas abscessMenstrual pain
Crohn’s diseaseIlium fractureOvarian cyst
DiverticulitisKidney stonesPelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Muscle strain (side stitch)Left-sided appendicitis

OsteomyelitisLeukemia

Pinched nervePancreatic cancer

Polymyalgia rheumatica


Sacroiliac joint dysfunction


A few of the less serious causes of pain above the left hip will resolve on their own without treatment. However, many conditions require medical attention.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes swelling, stiffness, and sometimes severe pain in one or more of the body’s joints. There are several types of arthritis that can cause pain above the left hip.

Possible causes of arthritis include normal wear and tear or age-related breakdown of bone in the body. In some cases, arthritis is caused by disease.

Arthritis symptoms you may experience include:

  • redness
  • reduced range of motion
  • stiffness
  • swelling

Bursitis

Bursitis causes inflammation of small fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that pad your bones, including those in your hip. Most cases of bursitis in the hip are caused by repetitive motions or positions that irritate a joint’s bursae, such as running.

Other bursitis symptoms include:

  • aches
  • redness
  • stiffness
  • swelling

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is caused by an allergic reaction to eating gluten that affects the small intestine, causing pain and discomfort in the abdomen. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Doctors aren’t certain exactly what causes celiac disease, but some risk factors include:

Other common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • abdominal pain
  • anemia
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • itchy skin and rashes
  • nausea
  • nervous system problems
  • weight loss
  • vomiting

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract, causing pain in the abdomen. Doctors don’t know the exact cause, but the following factors may put some people at risk of Crohn’s disease:

  • autoimmune issues
  • being around age 30
  • smoking cigarettes
  • a family history of Crohn’s disease
  • being of Northern European or Anglo-Saxon descent
  • being of Jewish European descent, also called Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • living in an urban environment
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications

Other symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • bile duct and liver inflammation
  • blood in stool
  • delayed growth and sexual development (in children)
  • diarrhea
  • eye, skin, and joint inflammation
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • fistula
  • mouth sores
  • reduced appetite
  • weight loss

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition causing inflammation or infection of the small pouches (called diverticula) that line the digestive system. This often causes pain in the left side of the abdomen. Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches tear.

Causes of diverticulitis include:

  • advanced age
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • poor, low-fiber diet
  • smoking
  • some medications, such as steroids

Other symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • nausea
  • tender abdomen
  • vomiting

Muscle strain or stitch

Muscle strains are a severe pulling or overextension of a muscle. If a strain occurs on the left side of the body, it may cause pain above the left hip. So can side stitches, a common and temporary athletic injury.

Causes of muscle strains and stitches include:

  • poor form during sports activities
  • repetitive movements such as running

Other symptoms of a muscle strain or stitch include:

  • bruising
  • limited motion
  • muscle spasms
  • muscle weakness
  • pain when breathing
  • redness
  • swelling

Pinched nerve

A pinched nerve in the lower back occurs when a nerve becomes compressed by surrounding body tissues, often causing pain near the hip and in the legs.

Common causes of a pinched nerve include:

Pinched nerve symptoms may also include:

  • burning sensation
  • feeling your foot has fallen asleep
  • muscle weakness
  • numbness
  • tingling or pins and needles sensation

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness, which often worsens in the mornings. Causes aren’t clear but are likely to include:

  • advanced age
  • environmental factors
  • genetic history of polymyalgia rheumatica

Other symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica include:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • mild fever
  • limited range of motion
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction and sacroiliitis

The sacroiliac joints are found where your lower spine and pelvis meet, near the hips. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs when there is flawed movement in at least one of the sacroiliac joints.

Causes of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include:

  • arthritis
  • infection
  • pregnancy
  • traumatic injury

Symptoms may be worsened by

  • bearing extra weight on one leg
  • climbing stairs
  • running
  • standing for long periods
  • taking long strides when walking or running

Sacroiliitis is the inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. This can cause pain along the buttocks, hip, lower back, and sometimes down the leg.

Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can occur when bacteria enters a bone inside the body. Common causes of bone infection include:

  • infection through the bloodstream
  • injuries such as puncture wounds
  • unsterile surgery

Besides pain in the affected bone, symptoms of a bone infection include:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • redness, swelling, and warmth at the infection site

Bone cancer

Bone cancer, or unusual growth in the bone, is often benign. However, in some cases the growth can become aggressive and spread to other parts of the body. This can cause pain and a palpable hard mass in the bones.

There are different types of bone cancer, all of which can be painful. Genetics, disease, and radiation therapy for other cancers may be risk factors for bone cancer. Additional symptoms of bone cancer include:

  • fatigue
  • swelling
  • unintended weight loss
  • weakened bones that fracture easily

Hernia

An inguinal hernia is a condition caused by the protrusion of part of the intestine through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. This can cause a lot of pain.

Causes include:

  • chronic sneezing or coughing
  • increased abdominal pressure
  • intense activity
  • pregnancy
  • strain during bowel movements or during urination
  • weak spots in the abdominal wall

Iliopsoas abscess

Iliopsoas abscess is a very uncommon but serious condition causing an infected mass to form along the upper part of the hip bone (ilium). Other symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • pain in the groin
  • visual deformity on the hip

The most common cause of iliopsoas abscess is Crohn’s disease. Other causes include:

Ilium fracture

An ilium fracture is a break in the large upper part of the hip bone. Fractures may be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms may include:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • redness and swelling at the fracture site

Causes include:

  • advanced age
  • physical stress that is repetitive, such as long-distance running
  • trauma, such as a fall or car accident
  • weakened bones, such as in osteoporosis

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form in the kidneys, located at the back side of your body above your hips. Kidney stones may cause the following symptoms:

  • excessive urination
  • nausea
  • painful urination
  • persistent urge to urinate
  • radiating pain in the lower abdomen and groin
  • smelly or cloudy urine
  • urine that is pink, red, or brown
  • urine that comes out in small amounts
  • vomiting

Causes include:

  • special diets, especially those high in protein, salt, and sugar
  • dehydration
  • digestive issues
  • family history
  • obesity
  • other medical conditions

Left-sided appendicitis

Appendicitis causes sudden painful inflammation of the appendix, which can be deadly if untreated. The appendix is located on the right side of the abdomen, but in very rare cases, it can cause pain on the left side. Other symptoms include:

  • bloating in the abdomen
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fever that worsens over time
  • flatulence
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • pain worsened by movement or coughing
  • vomiting

Appendicitis is caused by a blockage in the appendix lining that causes infection.

Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, which can cause pain in the bones. Other symptoms may include:

  • bruises or bleeding that occurs easily
  • chills
  • enlarged liver or spleen
  • fever
  • frequent infections
  • nosebleeds
  • red spots on the skin called petechiae
  • sweating, especially at night
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • unintentional weight loss
  • weakness

There are several types of leukemia. Doctors think leukemia is caused by mutations in blood cells in the body.

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is cancer of the organ that lies behind the bottom of your stomach (the pancreas). If left untreated, pancreatic tumors can cause hip pain. Other symptoms include:

  • blood clots
  • depression
  • diabetes that’s newly developed
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • unintentional weight loss
  • yellowed skin and eyes (jaundice)

Doctors aren’t sure what causes pancreatic cancer, but it appears smoking can increase your risk of the disease.

There are some causes of pain above the left hip that can only affect females. These include:

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the outside of the uterus instead of the inside. This condition can lead to an emergency if left untreated. Besides intense abdominal and side pain, symptoms include:

  • early pregnancy symptoms
  • light vaginal bleeding that worsens over time
  • positive pregnancy test

Risk factors of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • getting pregnant while using an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • having a damaged fallopian tube
  • having a sexually transmitted infection
  • having had a previous ectopic pregnancy
  • having undergone fertility treatments
  • smoking

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition causing the lining of the uterus to grow outside rather than inside the uterus. It can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic tissue, and other organs in the pelvis. Other signs of endometriosis include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • excessive bleeding during or between periods
  • infertility
  • nausea
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • pain during urination or bowel movements
  • painful periods (dysmenorrhea)

A clear cause of endometriosis isn’t known. But risk factors include:

  • atypical reproductive tract
  • female relatives with endometriosis
  • going through menopause late
  • having short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days)
  • heavy periods
  • high levels of estrogen in the body
  • low body mass index
  • not giving birth
  • starting menstruation at a young age

Menstrual pain

Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) affects many women who menstruate, sometimes causing widespread abdominal pain. Other signs include:

  • cramping or throbbing sensation
  • dizziness
  • dull ache
  • headache
  • loose stools and diarrhea
  • pain that hits 1 to 3 days before your period and stops in 2 to 3 days

Menstrual cramps are triggered by hormonal changes associated with menstruation. However, some conditions affecting the female reproductive tract, including endometriosis, may worsen menstrual pain.

Ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid that may grow on a woman’s ovaries and cause pain in the abdomen. In most cases, these cysts are harmless and may not even cause symptoms. However, some women experience pain as well as:

  • aches
  • bloating
  • heaviness in the abdomen

You may be at risk of developing an ovarian cyst if you have:

  • endometriosis
  • hormonal issues
  • pelvic infection
  • pregnancy
  • previous ovarian cysts

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious infection affecting the female reproductive system. Often it causes no symptoms at first, but if untreated it can cause severe abdominal pain. Other possible symptoms include:

  • abnormal bleeding between cycles or after sex
  • fever with chills
  • heavy and unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge
  • pain and bleeding during sex
  • painful urination or problems urinating

There is one cause of pain above the left hip that can only affect men:

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a growth that affects the prostate gland, which produces sperm. Some cases of prostate cancer are slow-growing and cause few symptoms. Others are more painful, serious, and aggressive.

Some symptoms include:

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown. However, some risk factors include:

  • advanced age
  • being of African descent
  • family history
  • obesity

To diagnose the cause of pain above your left hip, a doctor will start by asking you about your symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical exam, looking closely at your left hip area.

They may run tests to better determine the cause of your pain. These include:

  • Blood, joint fluid, and urine tests. Testing the body’s fluids can reveal abnormalities that indicate disease in the blood, bones, and urinary tract.
  • Endoscopy. An endoscopy involves sending a long camera tube down a person’s throat to look inside the small intestine. This can reveal signs of infection or digestive disorders.
  • Imaging tests. CT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, and X-rays can reveal cancers, cysts, deformities, and bone fractures.

Depending on what the doctor finds, they may refer you to a specialist who can better diagnose and treat the cause of your pain above your left hip. These specialists may include:

  • gastroenterologist (specializes in digestive health)
  • obstetrician-gynecologist (specializes in women’s health)
  • oncologist (cancer doctor)
  • orthopedist (specializes in bone health)
  • urologist (specializes in male reproductive and urinary tract health)

The kind of treatment you need for the pain above your left hip depends on the cause. Treatment may include:

  • antibiotics to clear infections such as diverticulitis and PID
  • chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer
  • lifestyle changes such as a change in diet, quitting smoking, and increased exercise to treat conditions like Crohn’s disease and side stitches
  • medications like NSAIDs to reduce symptoms of dysmenorrhea
  • rest for mild causes of pain above the left hip, such as muscle strains and side stitches
  • surgery to treat certain cancers, remove cysts or the appendix, and repair fractures

In some cases, pain above the left hip is a major cause for concern. However, in most cases, it can be treated easily with rest or an over-the-counter NSAID.

Most causes of pain above the left hip are not immediate emergencies and are easily treatable. Paying attention to all of your symptoms can help lead you and your doctor to a treatment that will resolve your pain.