What’s Causing My Hip Pain? Three Common Culprits

Woman with hip joint pain

It’s never fun to experience pain and stiffness in your joints, especially when it comes to your hips. That dull and annoying ache can affect everything from movement to sitting, and it can even disrupt your sleep. Such discomfort can put a damper on life’s enjoyment, but did you ever wonder what’s causing your hip pain?

Locating the source of your agony is one step closer to proper treatment, but many people don’t know the root of their hip pain. In exploring the three main culprits of these aches, you can then start to make small changes in your daily routine as you venture on the road to healing.

Hip Anatomy

In order to learn what is causing your hip pain, it’s helpful to understand how your hip joints work. Hip joints are made of the pelvis and the femur. These bones make up a ‘ball and socket,’ which allows for a range of fluid movements, like walking. The cartilage found at the ends of bones helps to prevent friction. Otherwise, your bones would be rubbing together.

The movement of your hips is controlled by large muscles that are attached to the bone. These muscles are otherwise called your ‘glutes.’

A long tendon called the iliotibial band sits on top of those muscles, starting at your pelvis. This tendon runs past your hip joint, all the way down to your leg.

Inflamed Tendons

Tendons are connective tissues that link our muscles to our bones, and there are many tendons found in the hip area, such as the iliotibial band. When tendons become inflamed (otherwise known as tendonitis), this can cause pain and swelling. Tendonitis in the hips can happen when the iliotibial band suffers from repetitive strain or strenuous activity.  


One of the most common types of arthritis, osteoarthritis, creates damage to the cartilage of your joints. The cartilage acts as a cushion at the end of your bones, and when this begins to wear away, the bones will grind against one another, which causes pain. 

The cartilage between your femur bone and the pelvis forms the hip joint and allows for mobility. However, if this cartilage wears down in your hip joint, the bones will rub together, which will result in pain and limited movement. 


Bursae are small sacs filled with fluid found around your bones, tendons, and muscles. These tiny pouches act as a cushion, protecting your joints. Bursitis is a painful condition that occurs the bursae sacs become inflamed.

Because there are many bursae found along the hip joint, bursitis can be a common cause of hip pain. Like inflamed tendons, bursitis happens with repetitive motion.

Aside from these three leading causes, there can be other issues related to hip pain that are less common. Rest, icing, and switching up your exercise routine can help to prevent inflammation. However,  

if the pain becomes worse, see your physician to receive advice or treatment.

Hip Pain: Causes and Treatment

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